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Five Disabled Rock Stars that are Killing it!

by Ashley Andersen
August 2, 2020
Ruth Patterson, lead vocalist and violinist for the folk rock band, Moly and the Crackers. Photo Credit: Darran Moore.

When we think of famous musicians, who are physically disabled, Stevie Wonder and Ray Charles immediately come into our minds. But, there are many more. How do they cope with chronic pain, fatigue, the physical demands of touring? Here are five amazing musicians, who are doing it! And who are adored by their fans…

1. Ruth Patterson - Holy Moly and the Crackers

Holy Moly and the Crackers formed in Yorkshire, England in 2011. They are a folk rock group are inspired by legends such as, Joni Mitchell, Bob Dylan and The Velvet Underground. The lead vocalist of the group, Ruth Patterson is also an accomplished violinist and piano player. When you see her perform for the first time, it’s not always apparent that she usually has to be carried both on and off the stage. Unless the stage is wheelchair accessible, which is exceedingly rare… Patterson developed EDS (Ehlers Danlos Syndrome) and severe arthritis at the age of 16 and has been wheelchair bound ever since. 

The combination of these two diseases results in debilitating chronic pain and extreme fatigue. It can also cause severe depression and drive people to suicide… Fellow bandmate, Conrad Bird describes Patterson situation in an interview by Alex Payne by saying, “she’s a complete warrior…” He elaborated more on Patterson’s character and determination, “I think she’s finally come to terms with it, with that she’s starting to talk about it. She didn’t want to be identified by it. She wanted to be a singer and be more than the disease…”

It is evident, that Patterson has a tremendous amount of support from her bandmates, family and fans. Conrad Bird is also Patterson’s fiancé as well as a co – founder of the band. They have been a couple for over 10 years. Patterson’s ways of coping with her condition include getting as much sleep as possible before a show.

Patterson also tries hard to eat well. She takes prescribed pain medication but, does not abuse it. She also gains a tremendous amount both emotionally and psychologically by talking to fans and supporters, who also suffer from chronic pain. All of these things can be a challenge, when you are on a big tour. Patterson and her band have found a way to make it work with her on going physical disabilities. Patterson hopes that her condition will raise awareness about disabled musicians. 

“I have rarely seen ANY support for disabled musicians. I know of a handful of venues that have wheelchair access on to the stage  – venues and promoters just don’t think that disabled performers exist. Well we do and there would be a lot more of us if we had the opportunity to succeed in the industry…”

~ Ruth Patterson

2. Mick Mars - Motley Crue

Early promotional picture of Mick Mars. Photo Credit: Coffman and Coffman Productions.

Ankylosing Spondylitis is a debilitating form of arthritis. Symptoms may vary from stiffness to severe inflammation of the spinal joints. There is no cure. Chronic pain and mobility issues are something constant with this condition. Mick Mars, known for his dark sense of humor had this to say about it, “I ended up bent. I can always see my guitar…” 

Born Robert Alan Deal, Mick Mars joined Motley Crue, (during the mid 80’s) when was in his late twenties and has been the group’s lead guitarist, as well as a contributing songwriter ever since. 

The disease has spread into his brain stem, which makes it difficult for Mars to turn his head. Before Mars, had the money to pursue different treatments, he said the pain was so bad, he thought about ending it all. While on the stage performing, a fan jumped up and tackled him. It took him time to recover from pain and injuries surrounding this incident. But, he’s still rocking out!

This incident was rumored to be the reason that Motley Crue was calling it quits. But, Mars denies this. “I’m doing fine and it has never stopped me from touring. Thank you for knowing the truth. When I’m done touring, you’ll hear it from me…” That pretty much sums it up doesn’t it.

Also… Mars underwent a successful hip transplant and that has helped to improve his physical condition. He also eats right and does regular physical therapy. Mars says that his condition has helped him to become a better musician. 

“Music is my whole passion, it’s what I do, it’s what I live for. I guess it keeps me alive. I’m just happy to be here. To make people smile and give people what I feel inside from my music…”

~Mick Mars…

3. Tony Iommi - Black Sabbath

For guitarist, songwriter and producer Tony Iommi, creating the dark undertones and sounds of his band, Black Sabbath was not just an aesthetic preference, it was also out of necessity. 

At the age of sixteen, Iommi took a job as a machinist at at sheet metal shop, located in his home town of Birmingham, England. He was cutting huge sheets of metal with a machine. He had not received adequate  or proper training in using this device. There was an accident, the machine cut off the tips of his ring and middle fingers on Iommi’s left hand.

“I was depressed and felt extremely down. The manager of the factory came to visit me at home during my recovery. He told me the story of Django Reinhardt, who had lost his two of his fingers…”

~ Tony Iommi

Reinhardt went on to become one of the most inspirational jazz guitar players the world has ever known. It inspired Iommi to find a way to keep pursuing his creative dreams.Iommi is a natural “southpaw.” He refused to stop playing left handed designed guitars. He felt it would take too much time to learn how to play right handed. 

He would cut, heat up and shape plastic from the tops of dishwashing soap bottles. With a sauntering iron, Iommi was able to create artificial fingertips. The reason songs such as, “War Pigs” sounded so low and ominous on the musical tone scale is because Iommi had tuned his guitar down, three whole notes from a traditional E on the sixth string. 

The reason? It was so Iommi could press down on the strings easier. It seems like these changes and modifications were quite successful. Black Sabbath became one of the pioneers of heavy metal rock music. Iommi also was successful in creating his own brand of super light weight gauge strings. Iommi is the only original founding member left in Black Sabbath today.

4. Jerry Garcia - The Grateful Dead

Yes.. There are more than a few of the best guitarists, within the world of rock and roll, who are missing a few fingers. One day,  Jerry Garcia future lead guitarist  of The Grateful Dead and his brother Till were helping their father cut firewood.

Supposedly, it was his brother, who accidentally cut off nearly 3/4 of Garcia’s right middle finger. Garcia was just five years old, when the accident occurred. I do not believe anyone has ever received the full truth behind how Garcia lost his finger. I also believe this is exactly the way Garcia intended it to be. He enjoyed all the conspiracy theories, genuinely got a kick out of perpetuating them.The story of Garcia’s missing finger has become a rock n roll urban, rock and roll legend. One theory is that he had it cut off in order to avoid being drafted. 

The latest conspiracy theory, that I have heard regarding Garcia’s missing finger is very close to home, near where I grew up in Northern California. This theory argues that it was not Tiff, but, it was actually Garcia’s cousin, who chopped off Jerry Garcia’s finger and buried it somewhere in the Santa Cruz mountains of Northern California somewhere on Zayante Road… It does not seem likely we will ever know the real story. Close family and friends of Garcia are not talking about this… Unless of Garcia’s former wives, children or bandmates decides to reveal the truth, I doubt anyone will ever know just what happened to Garcia’s finger,

5. Bill Withers

Bill Withers was truly one of the most impactful and inspiration songwriters in the music business. With songs such as the anthem, “Lean On Me,” “Lovely Day” and the highly popular blues inspired song, “Aint No Sunshine.” In this song, Withers used his disability to enhance the song dynamically. Withers was born with a stammer. 

As a boy, Withers was horribly insecure about his stutter, when music came into his life, it was at moment that, he started to use this disability to his full advantage and harness his true creative abilities. If you listen to the bridge of “Aint No Sunshine,” he sings, “And I know, I know, I know, I know, yeah, I better leave the young things alone, but ain’t no sunshine when she’s gone… This song has become both classical and timeless.

These five musicians all prove that with determination, courage and a desire to overcome obstacles, truly anything can be achieved. For me personally, as someone, who is physically and also a musician I was moved when, I did the research for this article.

 It is a reminder for me never ever stop! Keep doing the things you love, what you’re passionate about. Or… Try new things. You may not be able to go downhill skiing, but perhaps photography or music will be something that you discover that becomes a passion. Just keep doing what makes you happy!

Article by Ash Andersen

Underrated Bands of Rock – The Overlooked and the Unappreciated

by Ashley Andersen
May 31, 2020
An early promotional picture of the British rock band, The Kinks. From left to right: Peter Quaife – bass player, Mick Avory – drummer, Dave Davies – guitarist, Ray Davies – lead singer, guitarist, songwriter.

What makes one rock band achieve legendary status and another become obscure or forgotten? Sometimes, it is timing, luck, lack of promotion or infighting. Here are five incredibly talented rock bands that never realized their full potential… 

1. The Kinks

The band known as The Kinks can be counted among phase one of the British Invasion of rock and roll during the 1960s. They had a fabulous repertoire of catchy, original hit songs, such as “You Really Got Me,” “All day and All Night” and many more. However, what led to this band being overlooked can be attributed largely to timing. They wound up being completely overshadowed by superstar groups such as, The Beatles, The Rolling Stones and The Who. These three bands were the most commercially successful and popular bands to come out of the British Invasion.

However, the band’s former front man, Ray Davies has received numerous awards for his career as a musician. Some of the most notable are the BMI Icon Award, for his “enduring influence on generations of music makers.” Also, Davies was inducted into the American Songwriters Hall of Fame in 2014. Joan Jett and the early punk band, The Clash have both listed The Kinks as a major influence on their sound.

2. The Yardbirds

British rock band, The Yardbirds. From left to right: Jim McCarty – drummer, Chris Dreja – rhythm guitarist / bassist, Jimmy Page – lead guitarist, Keith Reif – lead vocalist and harmonica.

If there was EVER any band in the history of rock and roll that should not have been overlooked, it would be The Yardbirds… During the band’s existence, they had three pedigree guitar players. Those of course are Eric Clapton, Jimmy Page and Jeff Beck. Young Eric Clapton was only 18 years old when he joined the band.These three musicians are considered to be some of the very best guitar players in the world. It should be noted that Keith Reif was also a very underrated harmonica player. 

The band formed in 1963. They enjoyed hits with blues cover songs such as, “For Your Love,” “I’m a Man” and “Train Kept A Rollin.” Ironically Eric Clapton would leave the band because the band was becoming too commercial. So, it was not because of their music that this band failed to launch into superstardom.

In an interview in 2015, bassist Chris Dreja talks about what it was like to play in a band with three incredible guitar players.“It was Eric first, he was still learning the trade, a beginner. Jeff was different, he seemed to be able to play without really practicing. And Jimmy was different because he was from the session side. He was used to doing what people wanted in the best way possible. He did just that – played what we wanted. He was precise and very businesslike…”

 It was more a case that the band would ultimately function as a stepping stone for most of the band members. The group would also go on to help create new genres in rock and roll, such as psychedelic rock. Jimmy Page would of course go on to become the lead guitarist for the legendary super rock group, Led Zeppelin

Eric Clapton would go on to form psychadelic blues rock band, Cream, Blind Faith, Derek and The Dominos and also enjoyed a very successful solo career. This band’s ultimate legacy is that they have served as inspiration for sensational classic rock bands like, Aerosmith and countless others. They left their mark in musical experimentation and innovative new ways to create guitar driven blues rock.

Death of Ketit Reif: On May 14, 1976, at 33 years of age, Keith Reif was found dead in the basement of his home, right next to his guitar and amp. The coroner determined that the cause of Reif’s death was electrocution from a guitar he was playing that was not properly grounded. Reif most likely wound have survived being electrocuted, if it were not for the acute asthma that he was afflicted with. It made his immune system highly fragile…

3. Thin Lizzy

An album sleeve from Thin Lizzy’s hit single, “Fighting”, released in 1975. From left to right: (Kneeling) Brian Downey – drummer, Phil Lynott – lead vocalist / bassist, Scott Gorham – guitarist, John Sykes – guitarist.

This band had loud, dueling lead guitars, a hip, Americanized sound and a highly charismatic leading vocalist. They were the Dubliners, who would inspire their fellow rockers and countrymen, U2. Of course, we are taking about the classic, hard rocking band, Thin Lizzy. If you have ever heard this band’s song, “The Boys Are Back Town.” then you know that it’s a song that easily gets replayed over and over in your head. It was the bands signature song and went #1 in Ireland as well as the USA. So what happened? Why don’t we automatically think of these guys, when we are thinking about the greatest rock bands of all time?

If you take a look at the electrifying live performance by the band below, you can see that Phil Lynott with his clever, lyrical enunciations and glances has the audience hanging on his every word. They were absolutely dynamite in a bottle live and so tight! However, one reason they did not ultimately realize superstardom status was incredibly due to lack of exposure. 

The band had to address the infighting and egos clashing within the group, which led to personnel changes. It also did not help that the sometimes fought with bands that they were touring with such as Slade. These issues took time to resolve and it was necessary to find new members and get them up to speed with the band’s growing music catalog. It meant that they were not touring and promoting themselves when “The Boys Are Back In Town” peaked.

The second reason is health issues, which were mainly caused by excessive drug use. So much so that the band failed to complete a full, major USA tour. This would have allowed the band to obtain a larger fan base. We forget that back in the ’70’s, there was no live streaming or social media tools like bands have access to today. It took time to build a large fan base and going on tour was absolutely essential for bands back in the day. You had to earn your dues, out on the road…

Tragically, Phil Lynott wound up dying as a result of severe pneumonia in 1986. His condition got so severe, he wound up being in a coma that he never came out of. This was the result of acute exhaustion and a drug overdose. Although Thin Lizzy has yet to be inducted to the rock and roll hall of fame, it did not stop Ireland from honoring one of their favorite sons.

 A statue of Phil Lynott can be found right outside the world famous live music bar, Bruxelles in the heart of Dublin. The statue was created by artist, Paul Daly. Phil Lynott’s mother, Philomenia Lynott was powerful and proud of her black Irish heritage. She campaigned relentlessly until a trust was created for the statues creation. The Roisin Dubh Trust is in traditional Gaelic. It stands for “Black Rose.” The statue was unveiled in a huge ceremony in 2005.

Artist and sculpture, Paul Day gazing up at his highly accurate and magnificent statue of Phil Lynott in Dublin, Ireland. Lynott stood at 6’1″ in height, so it must be a powerful piece of artwork to behold.

4. The Pixies

The Pixies after a live performance. From left to right: Joe Santiago – lead guitar, Black Francis – guitar / lead vocalist / principal songwriter, David Lovering – drummer, Kim Deal – bassist. Photo credit: Wikipedia.

In a candid interview, right before his suicide, Kurt Cobain admitted that he stole the riff of his signature song, “Smells like Teen Spirit” from a song that the surf – punk rock band, The Pixies had written. However, he never said exactly which one it was. 

Cobain and his band, Nirvana became essentially The Beatles of grunge. If this band had so much influence on basically every Indie rock and surf / garage  band on the planet, then why are they not as known to the masses, like they should be? When Cobain talked about writing “Smells like Teen Spirit,” he said this. 

“I was trying to write the ultimate pop song. I was basically trying to rip off The Pixies. I have to admit it.When I heard The Pixies for the first time, I connected with the band so heavily, I should have been in that band – or at least a Pixies cover band..”

Lack of adequate Promotion: Most critics agree, when it comes to The Pixies and their discography, “Surfer Rosa” is the best album that they made. But, incredibly not a lot of people know about it. Most fans are more familiar with the band’s album “Dolittle.” It’s almost laughable. How can that be???? One way for sure is that The Pixies never had a premium  management or promotional team to help them market their material and get it on the airwaves.

The Pixies are the masters of starting out slow… Then building, building until there is an incredible explosive climax of loud crescendo and dynamic changes! No one can deny that. In the genre of garage and surf rock, they became the masters of these continual dynamic changes.

Infighting: The tension between frontman, Black Francis and bass player and backing vocalist Kim Deal was intense… Deal had a desire to co -write more material in the group. Black Franis refused to grant her that wish. Frustrations and conflict became such a problem that Francis threw a guitar at her during a live show in Stuttgart, Germany. Kim Deal went on to form a solo project known as The Breeders and many other creative projects. 

In 2013, after coming and going for many years, Deal finally decided to retire from the band for good. As I mentioned above there’s absolutely no telling how many musicians decided to pick up a bass, a guitar, or buy a drum kit after hearing an album by The Pixies.Their importance in the evolutionary process of rock and roll has yet to be realized or understood…

5. Quarterflash

This is perhaps one of the sweetest stories ever, within the genre of rock and roll. The group Quarterflash was formed in 1980. The founding members Rindy Ross and her husband and creative partner, Marv Ross met while they were both teaching at an elementary school. They quickly married and formed a dance band, Seafood Mamma as a way to have a little fun in between preparing lessons. Rindy Ross in addition to having a voice comparable to Pat Benatar is also a phenomenal saxophone player. you can hear her saxophone part in between verses in “Harden my Heart.” It’s a catchy hook.

Marv Ross focused on creating the songs and was the band’s chief guitarist. In 1981, the duo created a great hit, which became their signature song, “Harden My Heart.” This song caught the attention of David Geffen and he immediately signed the act to his label, Geffen Records. Geffen created the label in 1980, so he was looking for groups to sign to the label.Marv and Rindy changed the group’s name to Quarterflash and studio musicians were hired for touring and recording.

“Harden My Heart” immediately became the number one hit in 1981 and earned the band a certified, million dollar gold record award. It was released on the band’s debut album, “Quarterflash,” which became a certified platinum album.

For this band, timing turned out to be both a blessing and a curse… If you go into just about any bar in the USA, people select “Harden My Heart” on the jukebox, while they are drinking, mingling and shooting pool. The band was successful in creating a truly timeless hit. 

However, Geffen Records suddenly dropped the band in 1984, when the genre of New Wave rock in the ’80’s kicked off… That has not stopped the band though from playing and entertaining their loyal fan base. Marv Ross has also become a successful soundtrack writer for several films. Rindy and Marv are still married and doing what they love. If you’ve ever played in a band, where two of the members are married, you realize just how amazing that truly is!

These are just five underrated bands of rock and roll. Of course, this list is ultimately subjective…. There are many, many more rock groups out there that try as they might, just never became a household name.

Article by Ash Andersen

Interview with Reyka Osburn – Death Valley High

by Ashley Andersen
May 12, 2020
Death Valley High
The band Death Valley High. From Left to Right: Reyka Osburn – lead vocalist, multi-instrumentalist,  Adam West – drummer, Sean Bivens – guitarist, Huffy Haffera  – bassist, backing vocalist.

Recently, I had the opportunity to catch up with frontman, Reyka Osburn from the goth rock, band, Death Valley High. If you have never checked out this band, you need to. They are amazing and also a great live act! These boys are dear friends of mine and I’m so happy for them and all of their accomplishments within the world of music.

In this interview, we discussed touring, which is something under normal circumstances this band does a lot of both here in the USA and also overseas! A lot of people think of touring in a band as something that is very fun and glamorous. While it can be. it can also very tiring and grueling, especially if you do not take care of yourself. 

I’m grateful to Reyka that he graciously took time out to share how he and his bandmates approach this subject.This is dedicated to every band, who goes out, lives on the road and gives their all to deliver stellar live performances night after night. Hopefully very soon, DVH can get back out on the road and rock out with their fans!

Ash Andersen (Rock n Roll.biz): Tell me about the first time y’all went out on the road.

Reyka Osburn:  Our first major tour was with Mindless Self Indulgence. It’s probably one of my favorite tours that we’ve had so far. We were finally getting to play to packed houses of about 700 – 1400 in capacity. That in itself was very exciting. We did a few shows out to the first date, which was in Toronto, Canada. We were super nervous about just getting into Canada, let alone being the first show of the tour. We didn’t want to miss our first night due to the Canadian Border Patrol.

Ash Andersen (Rock-n-Roll.biz): What advice would you give to bands, who are about to go on their first extended tour? Do you think touring is something that becomes easier the more that you do it?

Reyka Osburn: Aside from the obvious things, like proper vehicle maintenance and an ample supply of socks and underwear; I think having a healthy amount of patience on your first tour goes a long way. Patience with your bandmates, the venue, patience with traveling… Be laser focused in all of your business, but keep some zen in your back pocket!

Ash Andersen (Rock-n-Roll.biz): How do you boys break up the monotony or being on the road? Do you play cards, write songs? What is a day like for DVH, that involves a lot of traveling?

Reyka Osburn: One way of traveling well with others is to take time for yourself. You’re living on top of each other. There is plenty of time to be communal, so relish those times you get to be in your bunk (or your seat bench) and just do your thing. If it’s a long twelve hour haul, trade up the driving. Although this rarely happens, let the driver be in control of the music / radio. We tend to have the co – pilot be in control and that’s ok too. For a while, “Ha…”

Ash Andersen: (Rock-n-Roll.biz): Do you choose or have control over where you will go on a tour? 

Reyka Osburn: It’s always nice to be in charge of setting up the tour, so that the travel in between is not too far. Venues do not always line up, so you’ve got to keep moving. You might have to go well out of your way to make a buck! That said, we work pretty closely with our booking agent. He is really open to debate. If booking is too far out of the way, we ultimately have to decide if the money and time will be worth it…

Ash Andersen (Rock-n-Roll.biz): What are some places that you and the band would love to go and tour?

Reyka Osburn: We have literally been through all of the 48 mainland states here in the USA and played nearly all of them. I was just saying last night that Mexico City and a swing down to South America is on the dream list. Also Japan would be amazing! We’ll take a rain check for now on the Eastern regions, while this corona virus runs its course though!

Ash Andersen: (Rock-n-Roll.bizI have been fortunate enough to have had a little experience going on very short tours in bands. But, I’ve never been on a full fledged extensive tour. My question is how do you guys maintain stamina on the road? Like for example if you play the Filmore East in San Francisco then, you hop in a vehicle and travel 6 hours straight to L.A. and then play the Whiskey A Go – Go the following night? There’s very little time to rest and recover.

Reyka Osburn: It’s really draining on some of us. If you develop any kind of insomnia or just sleepiness in general, you have to rely on pure adrenaline. Especially if you’re adding booze to the mix, you’ve gotta be careful. It’ll catch up to you, if you don’t plan on taking “nights off” from after show partying. Some nights you drink to remember a show well played, other nights… You drink to forget!

Ash Andersen (Rock-n-Roll.biz): What’s the best thing that’s ever happen to you guys as a band, while on tour?

Reyka Osburn: It’s always nice to get a “bonus” at the end of a show (i.e. a bigger payout!) Some nights a promoter will add a little more to the envelope. That’s one of the best surprises you can get while on tour.

Another awesome surprise is a hotel room. Once we had a tour manager from another band give us the room key to his room, which he only needed for the day. We all slept sideways on a king size bed and we were all able to get showers before heading to the next town.

Ash Andersen (Rock-n-Roll.biz): Do you boys ever get the chance to do any sight seeing or anything like that while you are on tour?

Reyka Osburn: Sometimes we are able to see some sights, provided that we have ample time in between stops. On our way to Switzerland, Adam coordinated with the tour manager to have the driver take us to the Giger Museum in Chur. It was a complete surprise that they kept from mainly me! It was incredible to wake up and see the Swiss Alps AND at the base of the village, where H.R. Giger’s museum and bar were located!

Ash Andersen (Rock-n-Roll.biz): Can you please provide our readers with links to your website and any new material?

Reyka Osburn: You can always find us on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram at @deathvalleyhigh; as well as http://deathvalleyhigh.com. Our newest song is up at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UrHMRESU9x0 and for purchase at https://deathvalleyhigh.bandcamp.com/track/raise-hell. It will be available for streaming everywhere by the end of March.

 

Ash Andersen (Rock-n-Roll.biz): Thanks again Reyka, you boys are the real deal and I’m so proud of all of you!

Reyka Osburn: Thanks Ash, it’s been fun to chat!

Interview by Ash Andersen.

Inspirational and Political Music Anthems That Brought People Together

by Ashley Andersen
April 12, 2020
Billy Holiday recording live at Columbia Records in 1957. Photo credit: Ed Hunstein.

The Covid – 19 Global pandemic, along with the social distancing recommendations from the CDC has affected all of our lives drastically. It has been absolutely devastating for the music industry as a whole. It has instantly put a stop to all tours, festivals and live concerts throughout the world.

 Still… Many bands and performers such as, The Dropkick Murphy’sReverend Horton Heat and many more are finding creative ways to keep on entertaining us with live streaming. Music has always succeeded in giving us hope and has helped to create unity and understanding during the darkest of times. Here are ten of the greatest music anthems ever…

1. Billie Holiday - "Strange Fruit"

“Strange Fruit” is considered to be one of the most prolific and greatest anthems of all time. It started out as a poem, written by Abel Meeropol in 1939. Meeropol was Jewish and also considered to be a radical, as he was a member a member of the American Communist party.  Former Senator, Joseph McCarthy and his assistants were hunting down people, who subscribed to this political party like witches in the U.S.A. during that era.

This haunting and beautiful song, sung by the legendary, Billie Holiday juxtaposes images of the beautiful North American southern landscapes, along with dead black corpses hanging a from tree branches. Holiday’s version of this song was inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame. It is also included as a part of the “Songs of the Century,” which was recorded by National Endowment of the Arts, (NEA) and the American Recording Industry. Many performers have covered this tune. These include, Nina Simone, UB40 and Siouxsie and The Banshees

2. "For What Its Worth" - Buffalo Springfield

The song “For What Its Worth” was written by Stephen Stills, while he was a member of the band, Buffalo Springfield. Stills, a highly gifted singer, songwriter went on to become a member of the band, Crosby, Stills Nash and Young. He has generated over $30 million dollars in record sales during the course of his career.

On the Sunset Strip in Los Angeles, Ca., some owners and locals, who lived near or operated near live music venues such as The Whiskey A Go – Go became annoyed by crowds, who loitered outside before and after live performances. These people obtained a small victory, in getting a petition to stop the crowds from gathering. At least for a short while…

However, many music enthusiasts were not happy about this. They believed it was a violation of their civil rights. So much so, that on November 12, 1966 a protest occurred in front of the Pandora’s Box Social Club. Several people, who were at the protest wound up being arrested, including actors, Peter Fonda and Jack Nicholson. This Buffalo Springfield song become one of the most popular counter culture and anti war anthems ever recorded.

A picture from the November 12th protest in  front of Pandora’s box in Los Angeles, Ca. In 1966. Photo Credit: The Los Angeles Times Newspaper.

“For What Its Worth” was recorded at ATCO studios in 1966 and  went straight to #7 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart in 1967. In fact, many people believe that the song was written about the Kent State massacre. But, this song was actually recorded before this event took place. In addition to this, the song is almost an expected tune for any popular period film about the war in Vietnam. It was featured in the movies, Born on the 4th of July and Forrest Gump.

3. "Sunday Bloody Sunday" - U2

The band originally from Ireland, U2 in 1983. From left to right: Bono – lead vocalist, The Edge – guitarist, Adam Clayton – bassist, Larry Mullen Jr. – drummer. Photo Credit: Paul Slattery

What has become known simply as “the troubles,” has been causing death, war and destruction between England and N. Ireland for centuries. The event that has become immortalized in rock music and popular culture known as “Bloody Sunday,” occurred in Derry, Ireland in January of 1972.

British soldiers shot 28 unarmed people, who were attending a protest. Many of the victims, were shot point blank in the head. The band U2 recorded the song eleven years later on their album “War,” released in 1972. When lead vocalist Bono asks, “how long, how long must we sing this song?” He is referring to the reactions of the Northern Irish people against the British soldiers, who participated  murdering innocent civilians. Later on in the song, Bono also makes reference to a boy, who is waving a bloody hankerchief. 

4. "99 Luftballoons" - Nena

Promotional picture of the music group Nena – circa 1984. From Left to right: Jürgen Dehmel – bassist, Rolf Brendel – Drummer, Jörn – Uwe Fahrenkrog – keyboardist, Carlo Karges – guitarist. Nena (Gabrielle Suzanne Kerner) – lead vocalist.  Photo Credit: Wikipedia

In this clever, creative song, with the light and whimsical progression, there is A LOT more going on… Nena describes the excitement she experiences, when she purchases 99 red balloons. She takes them and lets them go up into the sky. However, the balloons wind up being detected on Doplar radar and the situation nearly winds up provoking a nuclear war.

Guitarist, Carlos Karges recalls how he acquired inspiration for the song when he saw red balloons being released into the sky at a Rolling Stones concert. This song has became a political anthem, which addressed the complex array of emotions between the Russian and American people during the Cold War.

 Also, it is a reflection of the state of mind of the German people, post WWII. Although Germany was in shambles, the hopes in dreams of the people were the red balloons that Nena was referring to in this song never died… This song appears frequently on rock music greatest hits from the 1980’s.

5. "Ohio" - Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young

The musical super group C.S.N.&Y. live in concert – circa 1970’s. From left to right: Stephen Stills – guitarist vocalist / songwriter, David Crosby – guitarist, vocalist / songwriter, Graham Nash – vocalist, Neil Young – guitarist, vocalist / songwriter. Photo credit: John McGinnis

There are not too many people raised in the western world, who have not seen the Life Magazine Cover photo of the Kent State massacre. The award winning picture was taken by John Filo. The image shows 14 year old, Mary Vecchio, who is crouched down beside the dead body of Jeff Miller. 

Miller was fatally shot in the mouth by the Ohio National Guard during a what was supposed to be a peaceful, anti – war protest in 1970. The students and people at Kent State that were there that fateful day were protesting the Nixon Administration’s decision to invade Cambodia during the Vietnam – USA conflict.

Image of student, Mary Vecchio crouched beside the dead body of Jeff Miller as a result of the Kent State massacre. Interesting to note: Ms. Vecchio is wearing a t – shirt with the word slave on it…

One person, who was shocked and appalled by the massacre was Canadian born singer, songwriter, multi – instrumentalist, Neil Young. He instantly wrote the song and played it for the rest of the band. 

The song is a direct response to the Nixon Administration and how unhappy Americans, who  belonged to the counter culture were with this former President and his cabinet members. This song is considered by many to be one of the greatest political anthems of all time for popular music.

6. "Ball of Confusion" Love and Rockets

The Love and Rockets cover of “Ball of Confusion,” released in 1985. Lead vocalist / guitarist – Daniel Ash, David J. – bassist, Kevin Haskins – drummer.

The original version of this song was written and performed by The Temptations in 1970. It was produced by Norman Whitfield. The lyrics are written in a stream of consciousness format. When perforned, it creates a layered, collage effect over a music progression that is linear in structure.

The lyrical content address a variety of topics including, the Vietnam War, segregation, white night, drug abuse, corrupt politicians and many more. However… There is not a diffinitive point of view politically with the lyrics of the song.That was a deliberate decision made by Barry Gordy, C.E.O. of Motown Records. He did not want to risk alienating any potential conservative listeners. 

In 1985, the rock and roll power trio, Love and Rockets created a cover version of the song. The song was released in 1986. Daniel Ash, David J. and Kevin Haskins are all former members of the legendary Gothic Rock band, Bauhaus. This song is on their first album, Seventh Dream of Teenage Heaven. Upon it’s release, the song immediately went to number 18 on the Canadian rock music charts.

7. "Fight The Power" - Public Enemy

Public Enemy, Hip Hop – Rap group, circa mid 1980’s. Photo Credit: Kevin Shung / MPTVimages.com

 In 1989, the Hip – Hop rap group, Public Enemy, hit a nerve by capturing “the sounds of the street…” The song was specifically written for the highly anticipated film, “Do the Right Thing,” directed by Spike Lee. It can be found on the group’s album, “Fear of a Black Planet.” Lead Rapper in the group, Chuck D. addressed the psychological and emotional struggles of the black community in America. Particularly black males, who were accosted by the police. Also, Chuck D talks about how when he did not group up with an abundance of black role models,

“Cuz I’m black and I’m proud and I’m hyped, plus I’m amped. Most of my heroes don’t appear on no stamps…” 

This song was automatically embraced and became one of the most popular and recognizable hip  hop songs of all time. It also succeeded in “crossing over” musical genres and was appreciated by musical enthusiasts, who were not just specifically into Hip – Hop music. As a single, “Fight the Power” reached number one on Hot Rap Singles. It also landed on #20 on the Hot R&B Singles. It was called the best single of 1989 by the Village Voice.

8. "The Revolution Will Not be Televised" / Gil Scott - Heron

Gil Scott – Heron was a respected author, poet, musician and composer. He also became highly interested in the art form of Spoken Word and is considered one of the founding father’s of – Slam poetry.

In the song, the reason Scott – Heron believes that the revolution is something that will never be televised is because it will take place inside of peoples minds…The song was written in 1971 and is on Scott – Heron’s album, “Small Talk on 125 and Lennox.” 

Scott – Heron takes on the role of commentator over a groovy, R&B progression, accompanied by conga drums. He also displayed his sense of humor as a lyricist in the song. This is demonstrated by lines such as, “the revolution will not give your mouth sex appeal…” The song was inducted into the National Recording Registry in 2005.               

9. "Do They Know It's Christmas?" - Band Aid

Not many events have brought the world together like the world concert Live Aid in 1984. When it was over, it had been watched by over a billion people that were spread out over 125 nations. 

The music for this song was written and performed by the band, Ultravox. The lyrics were written by Live Aid event organizer, Bob Geldof. The whole song, sung by a multitude of different vocalists – musicians was recorded in just 24 hours. 

Not everyone was a fan of the song. Morrissey, the often controversial, former lead vocalist for the band, The Smiths had this to say, “it’s the most self righteous platform ever in the history of popular music…”

This single raised over $14 million dollars for famine relief in Africa. The Irish are not eligible to receive a knighthood from The Queen. However, Bob Geldof did wind up receiving a KBE, which the Irish equivalent of knighthood. He is known now as Sir or St. Bob. The Live Aid concert successfully raised over $127 million dollars in famine relief funding.

10. "Imagine" - John Lennon

Initially, what was thought of by some to be a sappy, hippie song about peace has actually got some quite radical, powerful undertones, if you take the time to analyze the lyrics. John Lennon recorded this song live in 1971 in his home studio in Tittenhurst Park in England. The final master overdubs were recorded at The Power Plant in NYC. When the song was released as a single in the USA it went straight to number three, on the Billboard Hot 100 list.

 Tragically, nine years later, Lennon was returning to a different home one evening. The Dakota Building in Manhattan,  NYC when he was assassinated by a diabolical, Mark David Chapman. His wife, artist and poet, songwriter and creative collaborator, Yoko Ono was by his side when he died from four fatal gun shot wounds. Not many people know that Ono actually co – wrote this song with her husband.

In the song, Lennon dares the listener to think about a world without religion, without the trappings of social constructs, morals and values that people in the Western World are raised with. Lennon asks the listener to imagine further. A world with no countries, boundaries and “nothing to kill or die for…”

Like the song “Sweet Fruit” this song was inducted into The Grammy Hall of Fame, under the 500 Songs That Shaped the World Category. The Guinness World Records British Hit Singles Book named it the second best single of all time. Former US President, Jimmy Carter had this to say about “Imagine.” 

“In many countries around the world – my wife and I have visited about 125 countries – you hear John Lennon’s song, “Imagine” used almost equally with national anthems…”

Article by Ash Andersen

10 Popular Rock Bands that Changed Their Original Band Names

by Ashley Andersen
The band Blondie in the early days of their career in 1979. From left to right: Frank Infante – guitarist, Chris Stein – guitarist, Nigel Harrison – bassist, Deborah Harry – songwriter, lead vocalist, Jimmy Destri – keyboardist, Clem Burke – drummer. Copyright New York Times.

The process of coming up with a band name is unique to every individual band just like the music they create…. Sometimes, there is no in depth thought process required at all. The name is predetermined before the band actually forms.This is because the name symbolizes the band’s roots, place of origin and who or what they attempting to represent. Linkin Park would be a good example of this. In this way, bands are sometimes not unlike street gangs. Another example of this style of name choice would be, Bruce Springsteen and the E. Street Band.

For other bands, it can take a while to find that name that clicks… Even if the chemistry, music wise between band members, is immediate. There are many different ways names can be chosen. A lot of times, there are band meetings, where members spend the whole time trying to come up with a name they can all agree upon.

Sometimes, a band finally picks the right the right name, only to find out, it must be changed. There’s another band already with the same name and they have got a copyright on it. Or, it’s a name that’s too similar to yours. Here are ten different legendary rock and roll bands and the stories behind how they came up with their individual names.

Blondie

Former Playboy Bunny, Deborah Harry and ex partner – guitarist, Chris Stein combined forces creatively, when he joined her band 1974. The band was originally called, The Stillettoes. The group decided that the name was not quite edgy enough and opted to call themselves Angel and the Snake. 

After seeing this name appear on flyers and other advertisements, Harry became worried that the name was too long and that the pubic would not remember it. 

One day, while contemplating new band names, Deborah Harry crossed Houston street in New York city. As she did this, a random guy made a cat call and yelled, “Hey Blondie!” She thought to herself, “that’s perfect.” This band would go on to have a profound influence on the early punk and new wave genres of rock and roll. 

Depeche Mode

Early promotional picture of Depeche Mode. From left to right: Andy Fletcher, Dave Gahan, Alan Wilder and Martin Gore. Copyright: Spin Magazine from the interview written in 1988. 

In 1980, electronic music would receive one of the most beloved, enduring and influential bands to encompass this music genre. But when they began their career, the group’s name was A Composition of Sound. However, this name was not to last. 

It is argued that Depeche Mode means “Fast Fashion,” due to the verb Se Despecher. But actually, Depeche Mode took their name from a French fashion magazine, which when translated means “Fast News.”

Green Day

Green Day, circa early ’90’s. Left to right: Tre Cool – Drummer, Billie Joe Armstrong – lead vocalist, guitarist, Mike Dirnt – bassist. Copyright: Billboard Magazine.

Sweet Children was the original name of this San Francisco Bay Area based band, Green Day. It was soon discovered that there was another band in the area they lived in, called Sweet Child. In order to differentiate themselves from this act, the band decided that Green Day would be the name for them.

Def Leopard

Def Leopard early promotional picture. From left to right: Rick Allen – drummer, Joe Elliot – lead singer, Rick Savage – bassist, Phil Collen – guitarist. Photo credit: Rolling Stone Magazine, issue date: 1992.

When lead singer Joe Elliot tried out for this band, it was not for the job as lead singer. He was trying out to be the guitarist. At the time, the project was called Atomic Mass. 

,During a break at a rehearsal, Elliot told his bandmates about a writing assignment he had once done for a creative writing class. For this particular assignment, he chose to write reviews for imaginary bands. One of the reviews was for a band that Elliot had named, Def Leopard. The band immediately changed its name the following day.

Jimi Hendrix

A picture of Jimi Hendrix live at TTG Recording studios in October, 1968. Photo Credit: Chuck Boyd.

Initially, Jimi Hendrix did not choose to have his band to be called his birth name. Instead, he preferred to go by Jimmy James. He named his back up band The Blue Flames. He liked the way that it rhymed with his chosen stage name. 

Hendrix was also giving a nod to one of his musical idols, Junior Parker. However, Jimi Hendrix manager, Frank Michael Jeffrey, was not enamored with any of the names that Jimi had selected. He wound up changing the name himself in 1966. By that time Jimi Hendrix was already extremely popular and he could not do much about it. However, It did not stop him creating one of a kind, astounding and electrifying music.

Lady Gaga

Another superstar, that chose to go by her birth name at the beginning of her career is Stephani Germanotta. Many people have speculated as to how Lady Gaga came up with her stage name. 

The most consistent theory is that the songwriter / performer’s name was inspired by the Freddie Mercury song in Queen “Radio Gaga.” In an interview with the Scottish Daily Record, Gaga told reporters her feelings about the legendary Mercury. “He was not only a singer, but a fantastic songwriter.”

The Cure

Early promotional picture of The Cure in 1985. Left to right: Simon Gallup – bassist, Poryl Thompson – guitarist, Robert Smith – lead singer, songwriter, guitarist, Boris Williams – drummer.

This band is known as one of the innovators of the “goth” rock genre. They underwent several different name changes during the formative years of their career. The founding members all met while attending jr. high school together in the U.K. 

They first called themselves The Obelisk. When Robert Smith joined the group and became the group’s frontman, they changed their name to Malice. Then, the band’s name changed once again, to Easy Cure. After one final modification, they finally found a name that resonated with them and stuck…

Joy Division

A picture of Joy Division early on in their career. Left to right: Stephen Morris – drummer, Ian Curtis – lead singer, Peter Hook – bassist, and Bernard Sumner – guitarist. The photo was taken at Strawberry Studios / Stockport U.K.. Photo credit: Paul Slattery (Retna.)

All of the members of this innovative, English underground rock band were highly inspired by David Bowie. In fact, their first name was Warsaw, which was a tribute to Bowie’s “Berlin Trilogy.” 

After playing around London for a while, the lads soon discovered that there was a band called The Warsaw Pact. For a short period of time, they thought that Stiff Kittens would make a great name. But ultimately, the boys from Manchester went with Joy Division.

Black Sabbath

Early Black Sabbath promotional picture. Left to right: Geezer Butler – guitar, Toni Iommi – lead guitar, Bill Ward – drummer, Ozzy Osbourne – lead singer.

As you might expect, Black Sabbath and how they acquired their name is a pretty interesting tale. The band that would help to define and create the music genre, heavy metal, started out as a blues band. They first called themselves The Polka Tulk Blues Band. Soon, they would change their name to Earth. 

In a 2016, with Rolling Stone Magazine Geezer Butler revealed more about how the band’s name came about. “As a child, I always had a lot of psychic experiences.” Butler went on to share a frightening experience he had one night…

 “I woke up from in a dream and there was this black thing staring at me. It only lasted for a second but, it freaked me out.” After hearing this story, Ozzy Osbourne wrote the lyrics, “what is this thing that stands before me?” This signature song quickly became the band’s name. 

Red Hot Chili Peppers

The founding members of RHCP. From left to right: Flea – bassist, Anthony Kiedis – lead vocals, Jack Irons – drummer, Hillel Slovak – guitarist.

At the beginning of their career, Red Hot Chili Peppers tried to come up with outrageous names. This was an attempt to compete against other bands, with their boisterous, bombastic, funk – punk sound. Tony Flow & The Miraculous Masters of Mayhem was the first name the boys came up with. In his autobiography “Scar Tissue,” frontman Anthony Kiedis elaborates about how RHCP came up with their name.

“We started going through these huge laundry lists of idiotic, meaningless, boring names. Red Hot Chili Peppers was a derivation of a classic old school American Blues or Jazz name. There was Louis Armstrong with his Red Hot 5,  Red Hot or chili that. 

There was even an English band called Chili Willi and the Red Hot Chili Peppers, who later thought that we had stolen their name. But no one had ever been Red Hot Chili Peppers, a name that would forever be a blessing and a curse…”

Article by Ash Andersen