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Guns N’ Roses, The Police and The Beach Boys explore their band feuds and healing

by Ashley Andersen
February 13, 2020
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The Police, The Band
The Police Promo Photo Circa 1986 © Rolling Stone Magazine
Left to RIght: Sting Leading Vocalist, Bassist. Andy Summers – Guitarist, Stewart Copeland, Drummer – Percussionist.
 

We all have struggled with depression, self doubt, and trauma, that is both physical and emotional. We have also suffered and gone through tumultuous times with best friends, or a spouse. Have you ever wondered how you would try to negotiate through all of these feelings and emotions, when you’re a Rockstar? When you are not speaking to bandmate(s), but have to play a show for thousands of fans? 

Or just imagine yourself trying to cope with the media, who LOVES to spin inaccurate stories about conflicts, tension and infighting within your band? Here are some stories about bands, performers and supergroups that went through all of those negative things listed above and survived all the negative scenarios listed above and were still able to write, perform and remains friends in the end…

The Police

The rock band, The Police, formed in London in 1977. They were a power trio with multi instrumentalist and actor, Sting. He functioned as the group’s primary songwriter, bassist and leading vocalist. Andy Summers,  was the group’s guitarist and Stewart Copeland, was the band’s drummer and backing vocalist. They released five albums, between the years of 1977 to 1984. The band won six grammies, in various categories as well as two British music awards.

According to the 2019 Oxford dictionary, the word, synchronicity means: “the simultaneous occurrence of events, which appear significantly related but have no discernible causal direction…” Although, this incredible album for The Police was a huge success, it also signified and effectively ended this amazing rock and roll band…

In 1984, The Police released their album, Synchronicity. The album would go on to win International Album of the Year. It also would be the catalyst to The Police becoming inducted into the, International Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.The album’s producer, Hugh Padgham, recalled the tension and the hatred between the band members, while recording this album. 

“Sting wanted a simple drum beat that would eventually be painstaking overdubbed in multiple pieces. They were all particularly at each other’s  throats. They were sick of being around each other. Sting and Stuart Copeland hated each other and although Andy Summer didn’t show quite a much venom, they were all involved in both verbal and physical fist fights in the studio…”

Once, when Sting was asked if he could imagine the prospect of The Police ever reuniting, he said, “Um… I think that would be good cause to certify me as being insane…”

Well… Sting did not actually wind up going insane and he and The Police reunited for a world tour that began in Los Angeles, in 2007. Although the band did not release a new album, they  did perform 151 shows together. In total, the tour for this band generated an incredible $362 million U.S. dollars…

Guns N' Roses

Early Guns N’ Roses early photo – 1988. Left to Right: Steven Adler, Drummer, Izzy Stradlin, rhythm guitarist, Axl Rose – lead vocalist, Duff McKeegan, bassist and Slash – lead guitarist. Photo © Time Magazine.

Gun N’ Roses exploded on to L.A.’s sunset strip as well as the world of rock and roll with their incredible album, Appetite For Destruction in 1988. This was only their first album and what an incredible debut it was! Appetite for Destruction became an instant sensation throughout the whole world. No one had heard anything quite like it at that time. It instantly sold over $30 million copies worldwide.

 It is still in the record books as being one of the most successful debut rock and roll albums of all time. One of the things that made this album so amazing, is that it made Gibson guitars and Marshall staked amps, with that classic “crunch” sound awesome again! 

Another reason this album astounded the world of rock and roll is that it was a new, modern expression and interpretation of rock music, inspired by the legendary band, The Rolling StonesAlso, Appetite for Destruction, created a new love and appreciation for the rock and roll power ballad, with hits, such as November Rain and Sweet Child of Mine... Yes, indeed!

In 1989, Sweet Child of Mine received won an American Music Award for this song. For November Rain, Guns N’ Roses would receive an award for best cinema photography in a music video also in 1989 from the VMA, otherwise known as MTV Video Music Awards. It seems as though Guns N’ Roses truly had it all, a wonderful album, success, adulation and devotion from millions of fans, all over the world… So what happened? Why after all of this, did Guns and Roses break up?

Guns N' Roses - The Unravelling and The Break up...

Ask anyone, who is in a band and they will tell you, that most bands are ALWAYS on the verge of breaking up… Here are three major reasons why tension, egos, infighting and the inability to make compromises, all took down a HIGHLY successful rock and roll band, who seemingly had it all…

1. Stuborness and Stylistic, Creative Differences.

Dynamic, POWER HOUSE vocalist Axl Rose, was HIGHLY inspired by Elton John and Freddie Mercury as a boy. He loved November Rain and Sweet Child Of Mine and felt like songs like these perfectly demonstrated his abilities as a vocalist. Rose also felt that all Guns N’ Roses songs should be written in this way.

Conversely, Slash wanted nothing, but to play straight forward rock. He hated the idea of Guns N’ Roses becoming known for just power ballads. He felt that Axl Rose was only trying to highlight his abilities as a singer and performer alone… The two band members would fight tooth and nail over this issue…

2. Control: It’s MY or the Highway… Or was it?

After Appetite for Destruction, the band was in serious trouble. But, this time the issue was over who ultimately in the band had control. Over things, such as merchandise sales, the band’s catalog and the band as a brand… Gun N’ Roses had become a band, who was worth A LOT of cash. When bands soar to heights like this, the band is no longer just a band. It is a BUSINESS…

Urband legend has it that one night, Axl Rose refused to go on stage with the rest of his band members, unless they all signed over rights to the band’s name to Rose. Ultimately, the rest of the four band members did… Axl Rose has always denied this, stating that he would have legally been destroyed, if that rumor had actually been true. 

Later on it was revealed that it was not Rose but actually, their manager Doug Goldstein, who presented the papers to the rest of the boys… Goldstein told the four members that it was ultimately the right decision to make because the band was in such bad shape physically. There numerous lawsuits flying between Duff, Axl and Slash over “missed soundtrack opportunities” and the like.

3. EGOS

Ego… It is the number killer of all rock bands. Axl Rose is known for being a PERFECTIONIST… In 1991, Axl Rose began recording his solo album, Chinese Democracy. Then, the album was recorded and mixed in fifteen separate music studios… The solo album that he was supposed to release in 1992, was ultimately released in 2006. Why did it take so long? Rose was afraid of critics saying, that he was not any good without Guns N’ Roses…

“”It was a REALLY big fight with me and Slash… But the fight with me and Slash started the day that I met him….” 

~ Axl Rose

Slash became known as a guitar GOD. He admitted that he basked in that success. Duff went on to join Velvet Revolver and Jane’s Addiction and had the “I can’t be bothered” attitude. Steven Adler told everyone he was amazing, but could not deal with his inner demons and wound up going to rehab, twice…  

Rhythm guitarist for Guns N’ Roses, Izzy Stradlin seemed disillusioned just didn’t seem to care about the band or anything… Perhaps, after all the instant success that he had experienced with the band, he was just simply burnt out. Ultimately, this is the lethal combination that made Gun N’ Roses hang up their holsters and called it quits in 1993…

Guns N' Roses Reunion - 2016 - Coachella

Gun N’ Roses 2017 Coachella Left to right: Dizzy Reed – Keyboards and synths backing vocals, percussion, Richard Fortus – rhythm guitar, backing vocals. Duff McKagan – bassist, backing vocals and occasional lead vocalist,  Axl Rose Lead Vocals, occasional backing vocals,  piano, Slash primary lead guitarist occasional backing vocals,. Melissa Reese., synths,. keyboards. backing vocalist., sub bass., programming,. Frank Ferrer, Drummer, occasional backing vocalist. Photo © Wikipedia
Guns N’ Roses “November Rain,” live. At London Stadium, 2017

In 2016, truly the unthinkable happened… Axl Rose and Slash decided to bury the hatchet. Immediately afterwards, Guns N’ Roses became a band once again. The band began their reunion tour, Not in This Lifetime on April 1, 2016 at the Coachella North American music festival. The name of the tour is based on reactions to questions posed to Axl Rose and Slash separately, if they would ever consider getting Guns N’ Roses back together again.

So far, since its inception, this reunion for Guns N’ Roses has grossed over $565 million dollars in ticket sales and merchandise. The reunion tour is scheduled to end in 2020… Opening acts for the  Guns N’ Roses reunion included AC/DC and  Alice in Chains.

Why Did Brian Wilson of The Beach Boys just decide one day to go to bed for twenty years?

Brian Wilson principal songwriter. piano player and contributing vocalist for The Beach Boys. 
Photo Credit © Lester Cohen / Wire Image

Brian Wilson began his songwriting career as a hit writer for his idol music producer, Phil Spector. He wrote songs for The Ronnetts and The Crystals in the early 60’s. In 1962, he formed the band, The Beach Boys. His bandmates were his brothers, Dennis Wilson, Carl Wilson, their cousin Mike Love along with their friend, Al Jardine. In addition to playing piano for the group, Brian Wilson also played bass, was a producer and was the band’s de facto leader. In 1966, Brian Wilson effectively wrote a musical masterpiece. 

The song Good Vibrations. Brian Wilson already had a slew of number one hit songs under his belt. Perhaps, this one is the one he is best known for. So what on Earth, made this incredibly talented musician and songwriter decide to move from his Hollywood home with his first wife Melissa, (a talented musician in her own right) walk upstairs into his bedroom, shut the door and simply stay literally in bed for such an incredibly long time?

In 2016, Brian Wilson sat down for what was an extremely candid interview with, Rolling Stone Magazine. He addressed some of the things that made him completely turn inwards and retreat into himself.

1. Drugs: Specifically LSD

Brian Wilson lists his seemingly instant departure as the leader of The Beach Boys came from taking repeated doses of the drug LSD.  “I want people to realize that drugs can be very detrimental and dangerous. I talk about my bad experiences on drugs in his autobiography book.  

2.Mental Illness

Perhaps the most significant factor, which made Brian Wilson withdraw from public life, was his on going struggles with mental health issues. In the interview with Rolling Stone Magazine, he stated that his personal battle with mental disorders were a direct result of all the drugs that he took.

Also, Wilson talks about how his relationship with an extremely loving, but domineering father led him to want to wanting to escape negative feelings surrounding this, by taking psychedelic drugs. “My dad was quite the slave driver. He made us mow the lawn and when we were done, he’d say mow it again… That’s just the way it was. Mow it twice, do it right…” 

Wilson also commented on how his dad was also a musician and someone that he very much admired. Brian Wilson was diagnosed as a schizoaffective and also with manic depression. In the 1984, he was diagnosed as a paranoid schizophrenic as a direct result of brain damage caused by excessive drug use. 

It is not surprising that Brian Wilson’s daughter Carnie Wilson, of the band Wilson / Phillips,  also struggled immensely with her father and her relationship with him. (Her band also  features singer, Chynna Phillips, daughter of John Phillips, from the 1960’s supergroup, The Mama’s and Papa’s. The third member of this band is Wendy Wilson, Carnie’s sister.) She once said in an interview with Oprah Winfrey, “I had to stop wishing for the Dad, I wanted and accept the Dad that I had…” I think a lot of children can relate to this comment. Especially, when a parent is a drug addict or suffers from mental illness. Brian Wilson has worked hard to mend his fractured relationship with both Carnie and Wendy.

3. Brian Wilson’s on-going feud with singer Mike Love.

This infamous rock and roll feud goes all the way back to 1966. During the recording of The Beach Boys album, Pet Love. Love was furious that when Brian Wilson wrote the songs for the album, he took nearly all of the melodies created for the lead singer. It resulted in Brian Wilson and his cousin, Mike Love not speaking for five years… Add that to Brian Wilson essentially removing himself from public life and almost everyone for twenty years. The situation was a tuff one. 

Wendy Wilson, Brian Wilson and Carnie Wilson, together singing live. © NY Times

A Short Lived Reunion...

In 2012, The Beach Boys did reunite. Everything seemed to be going extremely well for the group. In spite of this, Brian Wilson and Mike Love have always had a tenuous relationship with one another… After the band got back together, Mike Love announced that he would be carrying on touring under The Beach Boys name, without Brian. That ultimately, did not sit well with Brian Wilson… Ultimately, Wilson stated that unless big changes occur with the band he is finished with creating and performing with The Beach Boys.

Ultimately, all three of these bands and performers did what it took to come together again. Or at least, they attempted to do so.

 They took time to heal and address their core issues as individuals and then as a group. They communicated and were honest, even when that was extremely difficult. Also, they learned that ego is never an ally, when working creatively with others and that you have to be wiling to make compromises.

If not, then it’s better to be happy, than playing in a band with people, who make you feel terrible. Bands are not unlike romantic relationships.  But instead of having one “romantic interest,” you can have many, depending on the size of the band. It all takes work. The writing, the rehearsing, recording, performing. That can all be an incredible rush. But, it also takes work to fix things, when you and your band are in crisis. All three of these bands and performers demonstrate healing is indeed possible through the power of music! 

Article written by Ash Andersen

Ginger Baker – Legendary Drummer of Cream – Dead at 80.

by Ashley Andersen
October 6, 2019
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Photo Credit: Thi-Linh Le

He is the original heavy hitter… Before there was Keith Moon or John Bonham, it was Ginger Baker, who would set the standard as a drummer in the world of rock and roll. Peter Edward Baker was born in the U.K. on August 19th, 1939. He grew up in Lewisham, South London. Baker acquired the nickname “Ginger” due to his hair color as a young man. Baker developed an interest in the drums and began taking lessons at the age of fifteen. His instructor was jazz drummer Phil Seamen, who became an important mentor to Baker in terms of his style and approach to playing drums.

 Baker became known for his unique, polyrhythmic style. Baker was able to combine advanced forms of jazz bebop with Afro Beat and many other traditional African rhythms. Baker is considered to be a pioneer of many things including, world music and jazz fusion. Some of Baker’s influences included Max Roach, Philly Joe Jones and Art Blakey. Note that all of these musicians are jazz drummers. Baker considered himself first and foremost to be a jazz drummer. He hated when people referred to him just as a rock and roll drummer.

Cream

The psychedelic – blues rock band Cream in 1968. From left to right: Eric Clapton, Ginger Baker, Jack Bruce. Photo Credit: Art Kane.

In the early 1960’s, Baker joined the group Blues Incorporated. This band would also help to launch the careers of musical greats such as Charlie Watts and Mick Jagger. While playing in this group, Baker met his future bandmate and nemesis Jack Bruce. Ginger Baker did not think that Jack Bruce was good enough as a bassist to play with him. He was shocked when Eric Clapton wanted Bruce as the bassist for a new project they were forming… 

The three men founded the legendary rock group, CreamCream was a band that changed rock and roll forever in a variety of ways. Cream became rock and roll’s first power trio and they were also the first supergroup in this musical genre. Ginger Baker came from the band Manfred Mann. Jack Bruce had been a member of the Graham Bond 0rganization. Eric Clapton came from the two bands, The Yardbirds and John Mayhall and the Bluebreakers.Cream’s brilliant combination of psychedelic rock and blues fusion was the right music, at the right time. 

Due to the fact that all three members came from highly popular bands, Cream created an instant buzz. These three musical virtuosos wrote beautifully and generated a cohesive sound together. They were not just fighting each other for solos. But, there were problems… Although Baker and Bruce had incredible rhythmical chemistry, the two men hated each other personally. 

Ginger Baker once said this to a fan while autographing a Cream album. “Well, where do you want me to sign? Jack took up the whole front cover just like he always does…”  For Jack Bruce, it was very difficult for him to say anything positive about Baker as well.

 In 2005, music journalist Jim Clash interviewed Jack Bruce backstage at Madison Square Garden after Cream’s reunion performance. He asked Bruce if there was any truth behind the rumors that Cream would be going to California to play some more reunion shows. Jack Bruce responded angrily, “well, we had plans, until Ginger turned into a cu>t…” 

Things got so heated between Baker and Bruce that once during a Graham Bond Organization performance, Ginger Baker attacked Jack Bruce with a knife. Ginger Baker resented all the sacrifices that he felt he had made for the group. 

“At the start, Cream was mine. I took a drop in pay to start Cream, whereas Eric and Jack took a step up. Cream was always my baby…”  As a result of all this conflict and tension Cream only lasted two years as a band. Even when Cream broke up Baker and Bruce were never able to get along personally. However, they still kept playing with each other on and off for the rest of their lives.

According to an urban rock and roll legend, Jack Bruce called all of his closest bandmates when he knew that he was dying to tell them goodbye. Jack Bruce was known for having a wickedly dark sense of humor. When Bruce rang Ginger Baker, he supposedly said, “I’m dying Ginger, f>ck you!” Then, he slammed the phone down.

 Ginger Baker tried to call Jack Bruce several times, but got no answer. Jack Bruce knew that Ginger Baker would have wanted to have the last word. He made sure that he would not get it… No one knows if this actually happened. But if you understand the relationship between Baker and Bruce, then it is certainly plausible. Jack Bruce passed away in 2014.

Ginger Baker performing live at the Star Club in Hamburg, Germany. Photo Credit: Jan Persson/Redferns
Cream live performing their smash hit song, “Sunshine of Your Love.” This also provides an excellent example of Ginger Baker’s innovative style that would go on to inspire a whole new generation of drummers.

Drum Solos and Double Bass Drums...

In addition to creating fantastic music with Cream, Ginger Baker became known for playing long and impressive drum solos during the group’s live performances. One of his best simply became known as “Toad.” Why is this significant? Ginger Baker was the first one to do it in rock and roll. Baker is also credited as being the first drummer to use a double bass drum kit within the genre of rock and roll. He had a custom, double bass drum kit built for him.

Blind Faith

When it came to the conflict between Ginger Baker and Jack Bruce, Eric Clapton tried to remain as inconspicuous as possible. However, it is rumored that he left Cream to get away from Ginger Baker. Clapton has never confirmed nor denied this. He joined the supergroup Blind Faith in 1969. Blind Faith members included Steve Winwood from the band Traffic on keyboards and vocals, Ric Grech bass from Family, and Clapton on guitar. 

Unfortunately for Claption, if the rumors are in fact true, his plan failed. For Ginger Baker wound up becoming the group’s drummer. They released just one album, Blind Faith before disbanding. Eric Clapton left the group and joined the two groups, Derek and the Dominos and Delaney and Bonnie. It was while playing in this group that Clapton wrote perhaps what is his best song, Layla.

Delaney and Bonnie also featured guitarist Duane Allman, who played in the group until his untimely death in 1971. Ginger Baker took the Blind Faith break up hard. “It took a few years and a few bad experiences to learn that really its better to only trust yourself and not other human beings…”

Picture of the album created by supergroup Blind Faith. From left to right: Steve Winwood, Ric Grech, Ginger Baker and Eric Clapton.

Ginger Baker's Airforce

 Baker went on to become a pioneer in the world of jazz fusion by creating a super group called Ginger Bakers Airforce. The band’s members featured Steve Winwood on organs and vocals. Ric Grech bassist and violinist. Jeanette Jacobs, vocalist, Graham Bond alto saxophonist and many, other musicians. Baker’s former drum instructor, Phil Seamen played percussion in this group. The group released two albums. There were a lot of personnel changes on the second album. In 1970, the band kicked off the World Cup Rally by playing a set at Wembley Stadium. This band pushed the envelop between the musical realms of jazz and art fusion.

Batakota (ARC) Studios

In 1973, Baker formed the Batakota (ARC) Studios in Lagos, Nigeria. This is where Paul McCartney and his band Wings recorded their classic album Band on the Run. The album would go on to sell over a million copies. Baker also became the drummer for Fela Kuti and immersed himself in the genre of world music.

 Kuti was an activist, a composer and pioneer of the Afro Beat sound. Kuti is considered to be one of the most influential and charismatic performers ever to have graced the stage in Nigeria. Fela and Baker would go on to appear on the album Stratavarious, released in 1972. Bobby Gass from the Jeff Beck Group was also involved in this project. The album was re – issued on the compilation “Do What You Like,” released in 1998.

Baker’s manager Bill Fehilly convinced him to work with brothers Paul and Adrian Gurvitz. Thus, the band Baker Gurvitz Army was created in 1974. The band released three albums. They toured extensively between 1975 – 1976. The band broke up shortly after Fehilly died in a plane crash. Ultimately, Ginger Baker’s music studio failed.

Session Work...

After the failure of his recording studio, Baker moved to a small, rural town in Italy in order to conquer his addiction to heroine. In 1980, he became a session drummer for the band Hawkwind. Lemmy Kilmister was a member of this band for a short time before going on to form the punk band Motorhead. Baker left the band in 1981 after one tour. He also was a session drummer for former Sex Pistol vocalist Johnny Lydon. Baker appeared on the Public Image Ltd’s fifth studio album, Album. It was released in 1986.

During the 1990’s Baker moved to Parker, Colorado. He lived there from 1993 to 1999. Baker had a passion for the game polo and played it frequently at the Salisbury Equestrian Park. He also hosted weekend jam sessions there. He formed the Ginger Baker Trio, while living in Colorado. In addition to this, Ginger Baker would get back together with Jack Bruce to form BBM, which was another power trio. The band included Irish blues guitarist Gary Moore. The group did not stay together very long.

A live performance of The Baker Gurvitz Army in 1975.

Ginger Baker Not So Nice

Ginger Baker was a man, who could be very difficult to get along with at times. He could also be extremely arrogant. When he was asked what he thought about the rock group Led Zeppelin, this was his response. 

“I don’t think that Led Zeppelin filled the void that Cream left, but they made a lot of money. I probably like about five percent of what they did…” When Baker was asked what he thought of John Bonham’s abilities as a drummer, he gave the following answer. 

“Years ago, John said, There are two drummers in rock and roll, Ginger and me… There’s no way John was anywhere near what I’am. He wasn’t a musician. A lot of people don’t realize that I studied. I can write music. I used to write big band parts in 1960 – 61. I felt if I was a drummer, I needed to learn to read drum music…” Apparently, Ginger Baker did not like heavy metal music at all. He had this to say about it. 

“These people that dress up in spandex trousers with all the extraordinary make up – I find it repulsive, always have. I’ve seen where Cream is sort of held responsible for the birth of heavy metal. Well, I definitely would go on aborting. I loathe and detest heavy metal, I think it’s an abortion…” 

But Ginger Baker was self aware enough to acknowledge his short comings. “I’m not an easy person to get on with, I know…” But, this never stopped him from becoming an incredible drummer and working with some of the best musicians in the music industry.

Final Days

,In February 2016, Ginger Baker revealed that he had been diagnosed with serious “heart issues…” All of his future gigs and appearances would be cancelled until further notice. Baker wrote on his blog, “Just seen the doctor… Big shock…  No more gigs for this old drummer… Everything is off… Of all the things, I never thought it would be my heart…”

On September 25, 2019 Baker’s family posted on his blog that he was critically ill in the hospital and asked for fans to please keep him in their prayers. Ginger Baker was married four times. He is survived by daughters Ginnette Karen, Leda, son Kofi Streatfield Baker and stepdaughter Lisa. 

Baker told the media that he had been diagnosed with pulmonary obstructive disease as a result of heavily smoking for years. Baker underwent open heart surgery back in 2016. His family also reported that he had suffered a bad fall, which caused chronic edema in his legs and feet. On October 6, 2019, Ginger Baker died in a Canturbury hospital in England. Ginger Baker’s son Kofi is also a drummer.

There is absolutely no telling just how many rock drummers Ginger Baker has influenced. But some of them include, Alex Van Halen, Peter Criss, Neil Peart, Stewart Copeland. It has been said in the drumming world that virtually every heavy metal drummer has tried to master some aspect of Ginger Baker’s playing in some way. Our thoughts and prayers go out to Ginger Baker’s family.

Ric Ocasek

by Ashley Andersen
September 16, 2019
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Ric-Ocasek-the-Cars

It was Ric Ocasek’s band, his unique singing voice and songwriting abilities that helped to shape the New Wave music genre of the 1980’s. Ocasek was born in 1944 and raised in Baltimore, Maryland. He would go on to meet Benjamin Orr in 1965 after seeing Orr’s band The Grasshopper’s perform on The Big Five.

Ocasek and Orr would create several different music groups, which included: Milkwood, Richard and the Rabbits and Cap’n Swing. It was through these early groups that Ocasek and Orr would go on to form the band known as The Cars.

Early promo picture of The Cars. From Left to Right: Benjamin Orr, Greg Hawkes, Ric Ocasek, Elliot Easton and David Robinson.

From 1978 to 1988, The Cars sold over $23 million albums and had over seventeen hit songs on the charts. These hits became some of the most indelible songs of the 1980’s and ultimately classic rock including, “My Best Friend’s Girl, “Bye Bye Love”, and “Drive.”  The Cars officially disbanded in 1988. The Cars were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2018.

“In 1988, Ocasek removed himself from the public eye for a short while after The Cars break up. In 1990,  he released his solo album “Fireball Zone.” This was not his first. He released his first solo album, “Beatitude” in 1982. Ironically, it included several members of The Cars including Orr, Easton, and Hawkes. The song “Emotion in Motion” reached # 15 on the charts. In 1993, Ocasek released “Quick Change World.”

 An experimental album,”Getchertiktz” in 1996 would feature a collaboration with Ocasek and Alan Vega from Suicide. On top of the experimental sound effects was the beatnik poetry by Canadian Gillian McCain. None of Ocasek’s solo material received the same amount of critical acclaim as he had experienced while playing in The Cars. When Benjamin Orr passed away in 2000, Ocasek wrote the song “Silver” as a dedication to his former bandmate. It appeared on his solo album “Nexturday,” which was released in 2005.

Ocasek became respected as a music producer. He worked with a variety of different bands including Bad Brains, Bad Religion, Romeo Void, No Doubt, Black 47, D Generation, the Wannadies, Possum Dixon and Jonathan Richman. Ocasek also produced three albums for Weezer. Viturally all of Ocasek’s recordings were destroyed in the Universal Studios Fire of 2008.

Ocasek wrote a book of poetry called Negative Theatre in 1993. He had two small acting parts in the films “Hairspray” and “Made in Heaven.” Ric Ocasek was found dead in his apartment by his estranged wife Paulina Porizkova on September 15th, 2019. Police have determined that there was no foul play however the cause of Ocasek’s death remains unknown. He is survived by his six sons. Our thoughts and prayers go out to Ric Ocasek’s family.

 

Who Is Brian Eno? The Complete Story

by Ashley Andersen
July 29, 2019
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Brian Eno – 2019. © NME.

 If you examine the back of just about any popular ’80’s underground band or solo artist, it is highly probable Brian Eno’s name will be listed in the credits. I discovered this frequently with my own vinyl record collection in high school. It made me ask the question, who is Brian Eno? To reveal all about this extraordinarily talented man is complex and would require turning this particular blog into a book. 

So, In ten different ways, I will attempt to provide insight on the impact, innovation, influence that Brian Eno has had for over forty years as a producer, artist, inventor, composer, author and visual artist. This task is not without its challenges. For Brian Eno is not unlike Steve Jobs, regarding Eno’s in terms of his contributions, inventions and influence on the music world.

1. Early Origins...

Brian Peter George St. John le Baptiste de la Salle Eno (born Brian Peter George) was born in England in 1948. He was raised in Suffolk and would go on to attend Ipswich Civic Art College and the Winchester school of Art during the mid ’60’s. While he was a student, Eno studied Experimental Art and Painting.

2. Brian Eno is a founding member of the band Roxy Music.

“As a result of going into a subway station and meeting Andy (saxophonist Andy McKay), I joined Roxy Music, and as a result, I have a career in music. If I had walked ten yards further down the platform, or missed that train, I probably would have been an art teacher now…”

~ Brian Eno

An early promotional photo of Roxy Music, circa 1971. Copyright Warner Bros. (Note: In th early stages or his career Brian Eno just went simply by the stagename Eno.)

 In 1971, Brian Eno gained entry into the music business by becoming a member of the band Roxy Music. Initially, his role in the band was behind the scenes utilizing tape recorders to create loops and delayed sound effects. He also operated the group’s mixing board. His role evolved and he would go on to join his band members on stage playing a MCS3 synthesizer. He was also known for his flamboyant style of dress onstage and heavy make up. In 1973, Eno made the decision to leave the group.

3. Some of Brian Eno's pastimes include experimenting with tape recorders and inventing innovative creative systems...

During the course of his career, Brian Eno has invented some incredible things, including something called Oblique Strategies. Eno created this creative card based system with the help of Peter Schmidt. Like creative tarot cards, they are designed to help inspire and challenge artists and to help them embark on new creative pathways. This system was created in 1975. There have been millions artists and musicians have benefitted from applying this system into their work, including David Bowie.

Oblique Strategies: the creative card based system to help promote creativity in artists. The system was invented by Brian Eno and colleague Peter Schmidt in 1975.

Brian Eno and his friend Robert Fripp (guitarist in King Crimson) helped to popularize a looping effect and delay technique through the use of tape recorders. This recording technique became known as Fripperonics. The process was created by having Fripp play guitar while a tape recorder was rewinding, while another tape machine was recording the sound. It is demonstrated in Eno and Fripp’s collaborative albums No Pussyfooting and Evening Star. These albums were created during the years of 1973 – 1975. Eno has worked extensively with Fripp throughout his entire career.

The 77 Million Paintings by Brian Eno is digital art software program that was created specifically for home computers in 2006. It combines his music composition skills in the genre of both Ambient and Generative Music. Oh by the way, Eno is credited with invention both of these music styles…  

This computer program also demonstrates Eno’s talents as a painter and visual artist. The paintings by Eno were done on glass slides. With each launching of this amazing computer program new examples of paintings and music can be seen heard for a predicted total of 77 million possible different outcomes.

4. Brian Eno's Songwriting abilities helped to inspire the evolution of Punk Rock music.

Brian Eno’s second solo album “Taking Tiger Mountain (By Strategy)” released in 1974

On his second solo album Taking Tiger Mountain (By Strategy) released in 1974. Eno applied his Oblique Strategies creative system his own songwriting and one of the results was Third Uncle. The cards also helped to alter the way recording and studio work had previously been approached.

Eno’s application of Oblique Strategies into the lyrics of Third Uncle resulted in words sounding random, accidental and more like a percussive instrument. There definitely does not seem to be any rhyme or reason to it. This song is considered to be a predecessor and an inspirational anthem of the punk rock music movement.

The band Bauhaus covered Third Uncle on their album The Skies Gone Out released in 1982. You know you are doing something pretty cool when one of the most popular, influential and respected bands within the genre of gothic rock decides that they want to do a cover one of one your songs…

5. Brian Eno and David Bowie were buddies...

“David’s death came as a complete surprise as did nearly everything else about him. I feel a huge gap now. We knew each other for over forty years, in a friendship that was always tinged by (comic characters) Pete and Dud…” 

 

~ Brian Eno.

The connection between David Bowie and Brian Eno was significant and they were great friends as well as collaborators. Eno produced what is now referred to as the Berlin Trilogy by Bowie. These albums are Low, Heroes and Lodger. He also performed on these albums and live with Bowie on numerous occasions. In 1997, Eno co – wrote the song I’m Afraid of Americans, with Bowie, which was released as a single on the album Earthling. The song gained first gained  popularity in the movie Showgirls. Eno played synthesizer on the song and also helped to write the lyrics. Bowie described what the lyrics meant to him in this way while traveling in Java: 

“It’s not truly hostile about Americans as say, Born in the U.S.A., it’s more sardonic…” 

“The invasion of any homogenized culture is so depressing, the erection of another Disneyworld in, say, Umbria, Italy more so. It strangles the indigenous culture and narrows the expression of life…”

 I’m Afraid of Americans (V1) is a remix version of the song featuring Trent Reznor. Reznor sang backing vocals, played bass, drums and guitar on this version as well. The remix was produced by Nine Inch Nails.  A video for the song features Bowie and Reznor and was directed by Nick Goffey and Dominic Hawley. The video received one grammy nomination.

The friendship between Bowie and Eno has been immortalized in a cartoon created by the Brothers McLeod. This cartoon makes loving fun of Bowie and Eno’s creative process along with producer Tony Visconti for the album “Warzsawa”. 

6. Brian Eno was featured on a children's album.

In 1975 Brian Eno played “The Wolf” on his synthesizer for the adaptation of Peter and The Wolf by Russian composer Sergei Prokofiev. This rock and roll opera was created by Jack Lancaster and Robin Lunley. It was narrated by Viv Stanshall

During the early years of his career, Brian Eno went by simply Eno as seen on the album cover. Eno brought his signature bloops and bleeps on his synthesizer and combined  forces with the band Manfred Mann, Julie Driscoll, Phil Collins and many, many other talented musicians. Prokofiev originally wrote Peter and the Wolf Op. 67 in 1936. 

A picture of Russian composer Sergei Prokofiev early on in his career.

7. Brian Eno has created and popularized two musical genres.

Brian Eno has created several different ambient music albums. In 1975, Eno and Robert Fripp collaborated on the album No Pussyfooting. It was the result of the two experimenting with new techniques for recording with tape machines. In describing his process of creating ambient music Eno recommends, “it must be as ignorable as it is interesting…”

He concentrated in highlighting the environment in his compositions. Perhaps Eno’s best known composition for this style of music is Ambient 1: Music for Airports released in 1978. The album is listed in the book 1001 Albums You Must Hear Before You Die. With his incredible knack of making creative systems, Eno created a whole new genre known as generative music. (For an in depth study on how this genre of music is created, click on the hyperlink above.) It should be also noted that Brian Eno has been credited with creating the Microsoft Sound.

Through the combination of computer technology and his innovative recording techniques, Eno was successful in creating a genre of music capable of self replication known as Generative Music. The result is an infinite blending of multiple tracks. Brian Eno working with other artists has created several sound installations that represent this particular form of music. Some of these include DormientiLightness  –  Music for The Marble PalaceThe Quiet Room and Music For Prague.

In order to achieve this type of musical composition, Brian Eno began by working with SSEYO KOAN PRO, which evolved into Wotja and, which is a music engine sound system. This system is also known by its technical name (IME) – Intermorphic Music Engine and its co – founder Tiim Cole. These various musical sound engines allow composers to put their own unique personality and also get completely unexpected, self generating musical pieces.

 Brian Eno has created Apps for iPhone, iPad, or Apple TV, which constantly remix all of his latest musical compositions. One of the most popular ones is Reflection, which is the Eno’s twenty sixth studio album.

8. Despite an extremely large amount of evidence to suggest that he is one, Brian Eno does not consider himself to be a musician.

Yes, you read that correctly. Brian Eno considers himself to be a “Non – Musician.” He instead sees himself using the music recording studio as a compositional tool. It was while studying experimental music in college he first began to see tape recorders as being musical instruments. After attending a lecture from The Who guitarist Pete Townshend, Eno realized at that moment that he could create music despite having a formal background or formal training as a musician.

9. Brian Eno: Producer, Musical Collaborator and his music in Film / TV.

The images above provide a small sample of the musical projects Brian Eno has been involved in as a producer, collaborator, or music composer for films. Eno has produced forty three albums, collaborated on twenty six, made eight video albums, created thirteen compilations and released two E.P’s. Perhaps what is more impressive is how Brian Eno is able to traverse effortlessly across vastly different musical genres and work with artists and musicians, who could not be more different…

 He has worked with Italian operatic tenor, Luciano PavarottiLaurie Anderson, Grace Jones, John Cage, Nico, Talking HeadsColdplay, Toto and many, many others… Eno wrote “The Prophecy Theme” for the movie Dune and has composed many other pieces for movie soundtracks and TV shows. Eno’s approach and experience as a record producer is highly respected and has been sought after by some of the greatest bands in the music industry.  

Eno is and often called the “fifth man” in the band U2. Eno produced the  The Unforgettable Fire, The Joshua Tree, Zooropa and Achtung Baby for the band. Bono talks about why U2 specifically wanted to work with Eno:

“I knew he wasn’t a fan of us, it was one of the reasons we got to work with him. I wanted to know the other side of the argument. I knew what was wrong about us… I wanted to find out what wasn’t…”

It is through this kind of honesty and respect that Brian Eno has formed a long lasting partnership with U2. Eno formed other successful partnerships with Bowie, David Byrne, Robert Fripp and more. Recently in 2018, Eno collaborated with Kevin Shields from My Bloody Valentine and the two have plans for an ongoing elaborate solo project..

The Prophecy Theme written by Brian Eno for the movie Dune, starring Sting, Kyle MacLachlan and directed by David Lynch
The song “Only Once Away My Son” by Brian Eno and Kevin Shields released in 2018.

In 1975 – ’78, Brian Eno created a music label in the U.K. called Obscure Records. His label largely represented music that was experimental and compositions from the 20th century. Eno also made an album called Music For Films that features soundtracks for imaginary films. It is an extremely enjoyable Album to listen to.

10. He is an author...

Brian Eno is the author of over twenty three books. Some of his bestsellers include A Year With Swollen Appendices published in 1996. This is a wonderful primary source that explores Eno’s creative process and relationships with bands and artists such as, Talking Heads, Sting, David Bowie, Bono and others.

Brian Eno’s book, A Year With Swollen Appendices

Brian Eno is unique in that he has experienced the music business from every angle. He continues to inspire and create music to this day. The impact he has had on the music world is profound… You might think that with everything that Eno has accomplished during his career, he would not have time to eat, drink or sleep. But, the pictures below prove that Eno has had no problem taking breaks and enjoying precious time with his beloved cats throughout the years. Note: It is rumored that Eno’s black kitty Angel is telepathic!

Image on the left: © Dangerous Minds. Center Image: © Guy Peellaert. Image on the right: © ATP Recordings

Article by Ash Andersen. 

Metallica’s Special Tribute in Moscow, cover of Kino’s song, “Peremen”

by Ashley Andersen
July 23, 2019
5 (100%) 1 vote
Metallica – 2019. © Herring and Herring.

After nearly four decades, Metallica proves that they still enjoy setting the bar high and challenging themselves as musicians. Metallica’s live performances have become legendary. They have never stopped giving back and paying special tribute to their fans all around the world. Metallica demonstrates that they enjoy stepping outside of their comfort zone by performing special covers such as, “Dancing Queen” by Abba in Sweden. “Take on Me” by AHA in Norway, Rammstein’s “Engel” in Berlin and the work of Ivan Mladec in Prague.

 Metallica carried on this tradition by surprising and electrifying their fans in Moscow while performing at Luzhniki Sports Stadium on their WorldWIred Tour.  On July 21st, in the middle of the concert. bassist Robert Trujillo and lead guitarist Kirk Hammett broke into “Gruppa Krovi” (Blood Type) by the revered, beloved and respected Russian musician / songwriter Viktor Tsoi.

Viktor Tsoi © The Calvert Journal.

Viktor Tsoi and his band Kino gained much popularity during the ’80’s. Tsoi’s song “Changes” became anthem of real change. Mikhail Gorbachev adopted the song as an anthem during Perestroika and he would go on to change the face of Russian politics forever.

Almost by accident, (the song “Changes” was originally about personal change.) Tsoi became a cult hero and revolutionary figure. Like Marc Boland from T-Rex, Tsoi’s career was cut short when he was killed in a car accident in 1991. Metallica’s cover proves that Tsoi’s music still resonates and lives strong in the hearts and minds of the Russian people.

This was no easy feat for vocalist Trujillo to accomplish. He had to first translate the words into Latin and then break it down phonetically. But the reaction of the crowd shows that they appreciated the effort that Metallica made for a show that will never be forgotten by the Russian fans in Moscow.

Metallica lice atLuzhniki Sports Stadium in Moscow, Russia, 2019.