RIP Geoff Emerick 12/05/1945 – 10/02/2018

If George Martin was a wizard (and he was), Geoff Emerick was his familiar.

From Wikipedia:

Geoffrey E. Emerick was an English audio engineer who worked with the Beatles on their albums Revolver (1966), Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band (1967) and Abbey Road (1969). Producer George Martin credited him with bringing “a new kind of mind to the recordings, always suggesting sonic ideas, different kinds of reverb, what we could do with the voices”.

Emerick also engineered the Zombies’ Odessey and Oracle (1968), Paul McCartney and Wings’ Band on the Run (1973), and Elvis Costello’s Imperial Bedroom (1982). He won four Grammy Awards for his work in the music recording field. His 2006 memoir Here, There, and Everywhere: My Life Recording the Beatles caused controversy for its factual errors.

Early career at EMI

Geoff Emerick was brought up in Crouch End, London, and educated at Crouch End secondary modern school, where one of his teachers heard about a job at EMI and suggested he apply. At age 15, he was employed as assistant engineer. The fifth of June 1962 was his first day at work, and on the following day the Beatles came to Studio 2 at Abbey Road for their first recording session for EMI. To familiarise Emerick with his work, he was placed under the supervision of another assistant engineer, Richard Langham, assistant engineer to Norman Smith, who would be doing the first recording session of the Beatles in the evening. As a new recruit, Emerick was not entitled to get over-time pay, but was lucky enough to witness this first-ever EMI recording session by the finalised line-up of the Beatles in 1962, during which the group recorded for the first time with new drummer Ringo Starr on what would eventually become their debut hit single, “Love Me Do”.

 

Working with the Beatles and others

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As assistant engineer, Emerick worked on several early recordings by the Beatles, including “She Loves You” and “I Want to Hold Your Hand”. From early in 1964, his involvement with the band was limited due to his training program at EMI, as he progressed to lacquer cutter, mastering engineer and then balance (or recording) engineer. During that time, he helped record other artists for the label, including Judy Garland, and assisted at the EMI artist test of the Hollies. After working his way up to the recording engineer’s position, Emerick engineered the 1966 Manfred Mann single “Pretty Flamingo”, which became a number 1 hit in the UK.

In April 1966 at the age of 20, Emerick took over as the Beatles’ recording engineer, at the request of producer George Martin, when Smith became a producer. Emerick’s first album in this new role was Revolver, starting with the sessions for “Tomorrow Never Knows”. It was Emerick’s suggestion to record John Lennon’s vocal through a Leslie speaker on the song, to capture the ethereal sound Lennon wanted, and to close-mic Starr’s drums, formerly a prohibited practice at EMI Studios. In 1967, Emerick engineered “Being for the Benefit of Mr. Kite!”, one of the most musically complex songs on Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band. Lennon told Martin he wanted to re-create the “carnival atmosphere” of the Pablo Fanque circus poster that inspired the song. For the middle eight bars, Emerick spliced together multiple recordings of fairground organs and calliope in an attempt to create the effect; after a great deal of unsuccessful experimentation, Martin instructed Emerick to chop the tape into pieces with scissors, throw them up in the air, and re-assemble them at random. Later in 1967, he engineered the Zombies’ Odessey and Oracle and Tomorrow’s self-titled debut album.

Emerick abandoned work on The Beatles (also known as the “White Album”) on 16 July 1968, fed up with the intra-band tensions and arguments that hampered the sessions. Emerick also objected to Chris Thomas, Martin’s inexperienced assistant, being elevated to the role of producer in Martin’s absence, with the band’s acceptance. He returned to work with the Beatles on Abbey Road. Emerick received Grammy Awards for the engineering of Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band and Abbey Road.

Despite his departure from the White Album sessions, Emerick remained on good terms with the Beatles, particularly Paul McCartney, who invited Emerick to quit EMI and come and work for their company Apple Corps in 1969. In addition to engineering duties, Emerick oversaw the building of the Beatles’ Apple Studio in the Apple Corps building.

After the Beatles

Following the Beatles’ break-up in 1970, Emerick continued to work with McCartney. He served as recording engineer on McCartney albums such as Band on the Run (1973), which netted Emerick another Grammy, London Town (1978), Tug of War (1982) and Flaming Pie (1997). Emerick later said that he had always been perceived by the other ex-Beatles as “Paul’s guy”. As a result, for their solo recordings, Lennon and George Harrison chose to work instead with Phil McDonald, another former EMI engineer.

Emerick was the sound engineer on Robin Trower’s 1974 album Bridge of Sighs, and was credited by both Trower and producer Matthew Fisher for that album’s sound. He also recorded some of the backing tracks for the debut album by Stealers Wheel, The Psychomodo, but resigned early on in the process, handing over to Apple recording engineer John Mills to continue working with producers Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller. The Stealers Wheel album featured “Stuck in the Middle with You” and went on to receive the Dutch Edison Award.

Following the success of EMI’s The Beatles at Abbey Road presentation in 1983, Emerick prepared an album of the Beatles’ studio outtakes, to be titled Sessions, for release. The former Beatles initiated legal proceedings to prevent EMI from issuing the album, saying that the work was substandard; when made available on bootleg compilations, his mixes and editing of some of the tracks were widely criticised by collectors. In the mid 1990s, these recordings were used for the Beatles Anthology CD releases.

Emerick also worked on albums by Elvis Costello (for whom he produced Imperial Bedroom and All This Useless Beauty), Badfinger, Art Garfunkel, America, Jeff Beck, Gino Vannelli, Supertramp, Cheap Trick, Nazareth, Chris Bell, Split Enz, Trevor Rabin, Nick Heyward, Big Country, Gentle Giant, Mahavishnu Orchestra and Ultravox. His other recording projects included Matthew Fisher’s first solo album, Journey’s End; Kate Bush’s demo tape to EMI, which landed her a record deal; and Nellie McKay’s critically acclaimed 2004 debut CD Get Away from Me. In 2003, he received his fourth Grammy, a Special Merit/Technical Grammy Award.

In 2007, Emerick produced a re-recording of Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band in honor of the album’s 40th anniversary. It included performances by contemporary artists such as Oasis, the Killers, Travis and Razorlight. Emerick used the original equipment to record the new versions of the songs, and the results were broadcast on BBC Radio 2 on 2 June that year.

From 1984, Emerick resided in Los Angeles.

Here, There, and Everywhere

In 2006, Emerick released his memoir, Here, There, and Everywhere: My Life Recording the Music of The Beatles, co-authored by music journalist Howard Massey. The book caused controversy for its factual errors, and for its allegedly unfavorable portrayal of Harrison, bias towards McCartney and belittling and dismissal of Harrison and Starr’s contributions. According to Beatles biographer Robert Rodriguez, Emerick’s recurring theme that Harrison lacked prowess as a guitar player until the late 1960s is more reflective of Emerick’s personality, and is countered by several other sources, and some of his descriptions of the Beatles’ recordings are negated by the availability of bootleg compilations of the band’s multitrack masters.

Beatles historian Erin Torkelson Weber said that, apart from Lennon’s account in Lennon Remembers, the book also presents arguably the most negative depiction of Martin as a record producer. The publication led to an Internet flame war, as former Beatles engineer Ken Scott challenged the accuracy of Emerick’s recollections and stated that, before writing the book, Emerick had contacted him and other EMI technical staff saying he had limited memory of the events. Scott’s 2012 autobiography, From Abbey Road to Ziggy Stardust, sought to correct Emerick’s statements in Here, There, and Everywhere, especially with regard to Harrison’s musicianship and character.

Death

Emerick died from a heart attack on 2 October 2018, aged 72. He had been hospitalized two weeks beforehand after experiencing trouble walking, but was ruled to have been dehydrated. His manager, William Zabaleta, recalled talking to Emerick for the last time: “While on the phone, he had complications and dropped the phone. I called 911, but by the time they got there, it was too late. Geoff suffered from heart problems for a long time and had a pacemaker. When it’s your time it’s your time. We lost a legend and a best friend to me and a mentor.”

Paul McCartney commented on social media: “He was smart, fun-loving, and the genius behind many of the great sounds on our records. I’m shocked and saddened to have lost such a special friend.”

***

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As buried in the article, he produced my beloved Badfinger (the No More album). The list of McCartney albums is not complete (Run Devil Run), but you get the idea.

Rest in peace, sir, and thank you.

For everything.

Literally, everything.

***

About the blogger:

Michael Curry is a life-long Beatles fan and has written the short story “The Day John F Kennedy Met the Beatles”, available here on Amazon Kindle.

 

 

 

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Paul McCartney’s Egypt Station: a review

The number one record in the United States this week was from a 76-year old man. This would be a shock in our otherwise-youth-oriented culture until we learn the man is Paul McCartney and his album is Egypt Station. It is his first #1 album in 36 years.

eight_col_McCThe album has grown on me in its two weeks since release. The first taster, “I Don’t Know” disappointed me the first few times it aired, despite its genuinely lovely piano intro. Paul’s voice sounds flinty and … old. The mix (and the too-loud and simplistic drumming), that was made more for a youthful audience, only enhanced the weakening vocals of this musical legend.

The second song released for listenership, “Fuh You” that Paul describes as “a raunchy love song”, certainly got a lot of free publicity due to its title. But the style and mix seems meant for someone born when Usher was making hits, not Glenn Miller.

And the controversy had any Beatle-fan rolling their eyes. It’s been done (google “King of Fuh”).

The album is produced by Greg Kurstin, who also produced Adele and Beck. This explains the album’s penchant for modern-style recording techniques (murky overdubs and autotuning); my first reaction was Paul was emulating the current sounds and artists he enjoys – Kanye West, Katy Perry, etc.  I found this to be a mismatch … at first.

It reminded me of a critique of 1979’s Back to the Egg with Chris Thomas as producer, who did albums for Roxy Music and the Pretenders – cutting edge hipness at that time especially for a former Beatle.  The criticism went something like “a state-of-the-art hypodermic needle does not necessarily improve the medicine being taken…”.  I felt the same here.

BUT, multiple listening (and they play Paul’s new songs on Sirius every hour) has revealed the album’s charms.

In fact, it is safe to say this is his best album of this century. I would have to go back to 1989’s Flowers in the Dirt for a comparably solid, all-around-well-done album.  Ignore comparisons to 2007’s Flaming Pie – one of his best of course; but to be fair, Paul plucked 35 years of unused material to pepper the selections on that album.  Also ignore comparisons to 2008’s Electric Arguments. That album was a force of nature and belongs on any list of Paul McCartney’s All-Time Top One Albums.

With someone of Paul McCartney’s industrial stature, comparisons to his legendary catalogue is inevitable and, ultimately, disappointing. “It’s not as good as Band on the Run!” Well, what is?

How is Egypt Station standing alone on its merits?

Pretty good. Very good. In fact, the two tasters above are the weakest links of the album.

“Dominoes”, “Back in Brazil”, “Caesar Rock” are all fun and (more importantly) memorable songs. “People Want Peace” harkens back to the Beatles’ ultimate message of peace and love. The title comes from another of Paul’s father’s wise sayings. Paul should dip into his dad’s insights more often – “Put It There” from Flowers in the Dirt is another Jim-ism and one of Paul’s best songs.

“Come on to Me” is an average rocker with a superb middle music break that redeems the song. Otherwise it seems like a Wings B-side (see? I told you comparisons to his legacy are unavoidable).

“Happy With You” is gentle and sweet – one of the best on the album.

“Hunt You Down” is the final song on the album and a rocker worthy of being on Electric Arguments. There can be no greater compliment for a Paul McCartney song.

The modern-influenced production will attract the young ‘uns and there is enough “Paul-ness” to keep we geezer-fans happy. As its position in the charts shows, it will gain more than a “generally favorable” response as did his prior albums New and Memory Almost Full. Good albums, yes, but when was the last time those were on your playlist?

Egypt Station will likely stay there for a while. You go, grandpa…

***

About the blogger:

Michael Curry is a life-long Beatles fan and has written the short story “The Day John F Kennedy Met the Beatles”, available here on Amazon Kindle.

Copyright 2018 Michael G Curry

John Lennon on US commemorative stamp

by STEPHEN R. GROVES

https://apnews.com/568c687641f147deaff0d9f1c18bfb9e

Sep. 07, 2018

NEW YORK (AP) — John Lennon’s iconic round glasses and shaggy 1970s mane will now adorn a U.S. stamp.

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Lennon’s widow, Yoko Ono, and their son, Sean Lennon, were in New York City’s Central Park Friday to celebrate the U.S. Postal Service’s release of a stamp honoring the late Beatle. Hundreds of Beatles fans gathered for the event.

“I know that my father would have been really thrilled to be accepted, officially in this way, on a stamp,” said Sean Lennon. “About as official as it gets, I think.”

The commemorative stamp features a photo of Lennon taken in 1974 on the roof of his Manhattan apartment building by photographer Bob Gruen, who also spoke at the event. The stamp is designed to look like a 45-rpm record sleeve.

“Everybody loves to listen to John’s songs and I’m very proud of it, but also the fact that this day, Imagine and you guys are here. It’s incredible,” Yoko Ono said.

She also joked about the blame she gets for breaking up the Beatles.

“If John just went with me and then he began, ‘La La La, Da Da Da’ or something like that, people say, ’Well, that’s Yoko’s fault,’” she said. “Well, it’s always my fault.”

The crowd received her warmly though, giving her a standing ovation.

“I always knew how much he loved her,” said Donna Gallucci who came from Pennsylvania for the event. “A lot of people didn’t understand that.”

After the event, people lined up to buy the stamps and enjoy one more day of Beatlemania in New York City.

Gallucci said, “He was so much a part of the city, so much a part of the park.”

***

I got mine!

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Thanks for allowing me to share the story!

About the blogger:

Michael Curry is a life-long Beatles fan and has written the short story “The Day John F Kennedy Met the Beatles”, available here on Amazon Kindle.

A long goodbye: a review of Avengers Infinity War Part 1

In a rare change, I saw a movie on the weekend of its release. I kept Friday free because I had a bit of a cold and an eye abrasion that I wanted some quiet time to heal (no court, in other words).

I slept in and by mid-morning felt so much better that I wanted something to do. Since the Avengers movie debuted the night before, I thought I would see if an afternoon show would be too crowded.

The theater was half-full even at 1:30 on a Friday afternoon with school in session. It was not too crowded and sat back with my popcorn to enjoy the show.

Wikipedia has a nice plot summary, so I am using this with my own comments added. If you are concerned about SPOILERS skip the regular font – my comments are in italics on the right side of the page.

I hate continued movies (Matrix, Pirates of the Caribbean), paying full price for half a film … but I must admit I liked this movie very much and cannot wait for the conclusion.

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SPOILERS AHEAD!

From Wikipedia:

Having acquired the Power Stone from the planet Xandar, Thanos and his followers—Cull Obsidian, Ebony Maw, Proxima Midnight and Corvus Glaive—intercept the ship carrying the survivors of Asgard’s destruction. Thor, Loki and Hulk are powerless to protect the Asgardians. Heimdall uses the Bifröst to send Hulk to Earth before being killed. Loki gives Thanos the Tesseract to spare Thor’s life, but is killed after attempting to kill Thanos, who departs with his followers and obliterates the ship.

The movie starts about twenty minutes after Uncle Thor’s Goofy House of Wacky Fun (e.g. Thor: Ragnarok) – hereinafter called GHWF – leaves off. The so-called humor of GHWF still infects this scene like a late-stage venereal disease. But it does not last long. Perhaps the producers finally realized that the genocide of an entire culture is not the place for fart jokes.

Hulk crash-lands at the Sanctum Sanctorum in New York City, reverting to Bruce Banner. He warns Stephen Strange and Wong about Thanos’ plan to kill half of all life in the universe. In response, Strange recruits Tony Stark. Maw and Obsidian arrive to retrieve the Time Stone from Strange. After a battle including Peter Parker, Maw captures Strange; Stark and Parker pursue Maw’s spaceship, while Banner contacts Steve Rogers.

Thus tying in the excellent Doctor Strange movie and bringing into conflict the two most egotistical characters in the Marvel CU: Stephen Strange and Tony Stark. Benedict Cumberbatch and Robert Downey Jr excel here.  It is a joy watching these two superb actors relishing their roles.   It almost makes you forget their equally wonderful casting choice for Spider-Man.  Here the humor is in character and appropriately placed – it would have to be with Strange and Iron Man trying to out-pompous each other!

Oddly, Mark Ruffalo is given little to do – intimating the Hulk does NOT want to metamorphose back. Is he scared? Will this tiny but interesting bit of characterization be explored in the second movie? I hope so.

In Scotland, Midnight and Glaive ambush Wanda Maximoff and Vision. Rogers, Natasha Romanoff and Sam Wilson rescue them, and they take shelter with James Rhodes at the new Avengers Facility. Vision offers to sacrifice himself by having Maximoff destroy the Mind Stone in his forehead to keep Thanos from retrieving it. Rogers suggests they travel to Wakanda, which he believes has the resources to remove the stone without destroying Vision.

Seeing Captain America is the thrill of this scene. Chris Evans captures the essence of Cap as much as Downey does Iron Man’s. Viewing CA: Civil War is VITAL to understanding the interactions between most of the characters in this and later scenes.

The Guardians of the Galaxy respond to a distress call from the Asgardian ship and rescue Thor. He surmises Thanos seeks the Reality Stone, which is in the possession of the Collector at Knowhere. Rocket and Groot accompany Thor to Nidavellir to retrieve a weapon to kill Thanos. There, they and Eitri create Stormbreaker, an enchanted axe. Peter Quill, Gamora, Drax, and Mantis find Thanos at Knowhere with the Reality Stone already in his possession. Thanos kidnaps Gamora, his adoptive daughter, who reveals the location of the Soul Stone to save her captive adoptive sister Nebula from torture. Thanos and Gamora travel to Vormir, a planet where Red Skull, keeper of the Soul Stone, informs him the stone can only be retrieved by sacrificing someone he loves. Thanos reluctantly throws Gamora to her death, granting him the Soul Stone.

The Guardians provide most of the humor of the movie and it works wonderfully. Most of Thor’s quips are pulled back to his pre-GHWF days: calling Rocket a rabbit, etc. (Gee, a funny comment in keeping with his chraracter? To quote Thor in his previous movie: “What the hell?!”) The humor of Drax, Starlord and Mantis, are so appropriate ad in-character it finally reveals how forced Thor’s “comic” quips (I will never call these exchanges “dialogue”) are. Fortunately, it appears the adult writers threw out the childish ones when the scene shifted to Nidavellir and Thor became the more serious character he was meant to be.

And Nidavellir was exactly as I imagined it to be since the first Thor movie said the nine realms were really nine planets – steampunk on a cosmic scale! Peter Dinklage’s cameo as a dwarf was a highlight – as was making this “dwarf” tower over everyone else!

It was during the Nidavellir scene I realized what was happening. Three groups (the two Avenger splinters and the Guardians) split up and tackle different parts of the problem – holy moley! It’s a Gardner Fox JLA-JSA team-up!

Nebula escapes captivity and requests the remaining Guardians meet her on Titan, Thanos’ destroyed homeworld. Stark and Parker eject Maw from his ship and rescue Strange. Landing at Titan, they meet Quill, Drax, and Mantis. Strange uses the Time Stone to view millions of possible futures and states there is only one in which Thanos loses. The group forms a plan to confront Thanos and remove the Infinity Gauntlet. Thanos arrives, justifying his plans to Strange as necessary to ensure the survival of a universe threatened by overpopulation. The group subdues him until Nebula deduces Thanos has killed Gamora. Enraged, Quill retaliates, which breaks the group’s hold on Thanos, and he overpowers them. After Strange surrenders the Time Stone in exchange for Thanos sparing Stark, Thanos departs for Earth.

Another superb battle scene!

Upon arriving in Wakanda, Rogers reunites with Bucky Barnes. The Avengers task Shuri with extracting the Mind Stone. Thanos’ army invades and the Avengers mount a defense alongside King T’Challa and the Wakandan forces. Banner, unable to transform into the Hulk, fights in Stark’s upgraded Hulkbuster armor. Thor, Rocket, and Groot arrive on Earth and rally the defenders. Midnight, Obsidian and Glaive are killed and their army is routed. Thanos arrives and retrieves the Mind Stone from Vision, destroying him. Despite being severely wounded by Thor, Thanos activates the complete Infinity Gauntlet and teleports away.

There were prior battle scenes? The fight for Wakanda is so massive and incredible it makes us forget all that came before it. It compares with the Battle of the Pelennor Fields in Return of the King. Yes, I am comparing this movie to Return of the King.

Awesome. I am using the word in its original sense.

Watch Captain America and Black Panther run ahead of the other warriors. Pure athleticism and a wonderful small bit that will stick with me every time I think of this movie.

Thor’s appearance almost made me stand and cheer. Here is the son of Odin as he should be.

Thanos’ plan comes to fruition as half of all life across the universe disintegrates, including Barnes, Drax, Groot, Mantis, Maximoff, Parker, Quill, Strange, T’Challa, and Wilson. Nebula and Stark remain on Titan, while Banner, M’Baku, Okoye, Rhodes, Rocket, Rogers, Romanoff, and Thor are left on the Wakandan battlefield. Thanos, healed, retreats to a small nipa hut as he watches the sunset in satisfaction.

Omnipotent villains in comics always bugged me. Why doesn’t Thanos just wipe out ALL of the Avengers/Guardians and/or wipe them from existence since he has the power? It will be interesting to see what the remaining heroes do.

In the post-credits scene, Nick Fury transmits a distress signal as he and Maria Hill, amongst others, disintegrate. The device displays a red-and-blue star insignia.

This is what the post-credit scene should be – a tease of thing to come. “James Bond will return”. It introduces (kind of) Captain Marvel.

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So there it is.

I liked the movie very much but will hold off until the movie is “done” with the second part before I decide on a scale. It is always a thrill to see Chris Evans as Captain America and Robert Downey Jr. as Iron Man –  and since Evans has already said he is “resigning” as Cap we must enjoy them while we can. Both actors have yet to disappoint even if their movies do.

I saw it in 3D. Don’t bother … except for the Wakanda battle the movie is darkly filmed – so much that I had to remove the glasses in some scenes just to see what was going on. Perhaps the lack of lighting helped keep them under budget?

Thanos was an excellent villain – he was not a raving lunatic but determined, pensive and … thoughtful. We have no doubt he thinks he is doing the right thing. Well, perhaps not the RIGHT thing, but the ONLY thing that resolves the problems of the universe as he sees it. Someone has to make the hard decisions, no one else can do it but him. It makes him even scarier…

The plot of infinity War is well-thought-out, the heroes each have their time to shine (which granted is not long). Given the scope of the movie, the action and characterization is VERY well-balanced.

And damn that entire Wakandan battle scene was cool!

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About the author: Michael Curry is the author of the Brave & Bold: From Silent Knight to Dark Knight, The Day John F Kennedy Met the Beatles and the award-winning Abby’s Road, the Long and Winding Road to Adoption and How Facebook, Aquaman and Theodore Roosevelt Helped.  Check his website for more releases! Thanks for reading!

 

 

Ringo Starr coming to St. Louis!

The 2018 All Starr Band includes Colin Hay (of Man at Work – “Who Can It be Now”, “Land Down Under”), Steve Lukather (Toto – “Africa”, “Hold The Line”, “Roseanna”), Gregg Rolie (of Santanna and Journey – “Black Magic Woman”, “Evil Ways”) and new member Graham Gouldman (of 10cc – “I’m Not In Love”, “Things We Do For Love”).  On percussion and sax is Warren Ham (toured with Kansas and Toto) and on drums Gregg Bissonette (who played with Santanna and David Lee Roth).

Sir Ringo is scheduled for the Fabulous Fox Theater on September 7, 2018 at 8:00 PM.

I saw Ringo and his All-Stars twice. Once in the original run in Chicago (with Billy Preston, Dr. John, Joe Walsh, Clarence Clemons and Rick Danko and Levon Helm (of the Band) and in St. Louis at the VP Faire (with Felix Cavaliere of the Rascals, Randy Bachmann, Mark Farner (of Grand Funk Railroad), John Entwistle of the Who, etc.

Ringo always puts in a fun show – peppered with his hits and a few newer tunes. He plays drums while the other All-Stars go through their hits. I can almost guarantee the songs listed above will be performed. The All-Stars usually do two or three of “their” hits. A splendid time is … (STOP!) okay okay…

Two highlights I remember – Dr. John taking a verse during “The Weight” and watching a little boy sitting on his father’s shoulders singing “Yellow Submarine” while under the St. Louis Arch.

I would like to see Ringo again, but as of now (April) with family and work commitments I may not have the time.

Perhaps someone else going can convince me. It won’t take much …

See you there?

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About the blogger:

Michael Curry is the author of “The Day John F Kennedy Met the Beatles; a story of alternate history” as well as other fiction and non-fiction books.

What if the Beatles played at the White House before John and Jackie Kennedy in 1965? How would it have happened? And why? Written for an historical (fictitious) magazine in 2016, “The Day John F Kennedy Met the Beatles” examines the political and diplomatic reasons for the concert and postulates why both sides agreed to this historic meeting of two icons from the 1960s. John F Kennedy never met the Beatles, but this story asks … what if they did? This short story tells us what might have been.

You can view the book for purchase here: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B01HQQ7F8K

 

 

Shout Sister Shout: Rosetta Tharpe and the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame

Sometimes the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame gets it right! Congratulations to them for inducting Sister Rosetta Tharpe.

Who!?

Oh, I have loved her work for many years. She did not win on the fan ballot – in fact she came in nearly dead last.  But she was inducted anyway under the “influences” category.

And rightly so.

From Wikipedia:

Sister Rosetta Tharpe; Birth name: Rosetta Nubin, or Rosether Atkins

Born: March 20, 1915, Cotton Plant, Arkansas, US

Died: October 9, 1973 (aged 58), Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, US

Sister Rosetta Tharpe (March 20, 1915 – October 9, 1973) was an American singer, songwriter, guitarist, and recording artist. As a pioneer of mid-20th-century music, she attained popularity in the 1930s and 1940s with her gospel recordings, characterized by a unique mixture of spiritual lyrics and rhythmic accompaniment that was a precursor of rock and roll. She was the first great recording star of gospel music and among the first gospel musicians to appeal to rhythm-and-blues and rock-and-roll audiences, later being referred to as “the original soul sister” and “the Godmother of rock and roll”. She influenced early rock-and-roll musicians, including Little Richard, Johnny Cash, Carl Perkins, Chuck Berry, Elvis Presley and Jerry Lee Lewis.

Tharpe was a pioneer in her guitar technique; she was among the first popular recording artists to use heavy distortion on her electric guitar, presaging the rise of electric blues. Her guitar playing technique had a profound influence on the development of British blues in the 1960s; in particular a European tour with Muddy Waters in 1963 with a stop in Manchester is cited by prominent British guitarists such as Eric Clapton, Jeff Beck, and Keith Richards.

Willing to cross the line between sacred and secular by performing her music of “light” in the “darkness” of nightclubs and concert halls with big bands behind her, Tharpe pushed spiritual music into the mainstream and helped pioneer the rise of pop-gospel, beginning in 1938 with the recording “Rock Me” and with her 1939 hit “This Train”.  Her unique music left a lasting mark on more conventional gospel artists such as Ira Tucker, Sr., of the Dixie Hummingbirds. While she offended some conservative churchgoers with her forays into the pop world, she never left gospel music.

Tharpe’s 1944 release “Down by the Riverside” was selected for the National Recording Registry of the U.S. Library of Congress in 2004, which noted that it “captures her spirited guitar playing and unique vocal style, demonstrating clearly her influence on early rhythm-and-blues performers” and cited her influence on “many gospel, jazz, and rock artists”. (“Down by the Riverside” was recorded by Tharpe on December 2, 1948, in New York City, and issued as Decca single 48106. Her 1945 hit “Strange Things Happening Every Day”, recorded in late 1944, featured Tharpe’s vocals and electric guitar, with Sammy Price (piano), bass and drums. It was the first gospel record to cross over, hitting no. 2 on the Billboard “race records” chart, the term then used for what later became the R&B chart, in April 1945. The recording has been cited as precursor of rock and roll. …

Musically, Tharpe’s unique guitar style blended melody-driven urban blues with traditional folk arrangements and incorporated a pulsating swing sound that is one of the first clear precursors of rock and roll.

Little Richard referred to the stomping, shouting, gospel music performer as his favorite singer when he was a child. In 1947, she heard Richard sing before her concert at the Macon City Auditorium and later invited him on stage to sing with her; it was Richard’s first public performance outside of the church. Following the show, she paid him for his performance, which inspired him to become a performer. When Johnny Cash gave his induction speech at the Rock n Roll Hall of Fame, he referred to Tharpe as his favorite singer when he was a child. His daughter Rosanne Cash stated in an interview with Larry King that Tharpe was her father’s favorite singer. Tharpe began recording with electric guitar in the 1940s, with “That’s All”, which has been cited as an influence on Chuck Berry and Elvis Presley. Other musicians, including Aretha Franklin, Jerry Lee Lewis, and Isaac Hayes, have identified her singing, guitar playing, and showmanship as an important influence on them. She was held in particularly high esteem by UK jazz/blues singer George Melly. Tina Turner credits Tharpe, along with Mahalia Jackson, as an early musical influence. Such diverse performers as Meat Loaf, Neil Sedaka and Karen Carpenter have attested to the influence of Tharpe in the rhythmic energy she emanated in her performances (Carpenter’s drum fills are especially reminiscent of Tharpe’s “Chorlton Chug”). Later artists, such as Sean Michel, have credited her influence with the performance of gospel songs in more secular venues.

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Watch this: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MnAQATKRBN0

Tharpe.2

She should have been inducted thirty years ago…

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About the blogger:

Michael Curry is the author of “The Day John F Kennedy Met the Beatles; a story of alternate history” as well as other fiction and non-fiction books.

What if the Beatles played at the White House before John and Jackie Kennedy in 1965? How would it have happened? And why? Written for an historical (fictitious) magazine in 2016, “The Day John F Kennedy Met the Beatles” examines the political and diplomatic reasons for the concert and postulates why both sides agreed to this historic meeting of two icons from the 1960s. John F Kennedy never met the Beatles, but this story asks … what if they did? This short story tells us what might have been.

You can view the book for purchase here: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B01HQQ7F8K

Sir Ringo: Early 2018, I’m (still) the Greatest!

Ringo Starr is now officially Sir Richard Starkey.

March 20, 2018:

Less than three months after the honor was announced, the Beatles drummer received his knighthood from Prince William, the Duke of Cambridge, at a ceremony earlier today at Buckingham Palace.

“I’ll be wearing it at breakfast,” Starr told the BBC about the medal he was given. And even with all the money and fame he’s achieved in his career, he said that formal acknowledgment from the royal family “means a lot, actually. It means recognition for the things we’ve done, musically and in life. So I was really pleased to accept this award.” He added that it was “way up there” with all the other awards he’s received over the decades.

Starr said that he and Paul McCartney had dinner in Los Angeles together, where McCartney, who was knighted in 1997, gave his former bandmate a bit of advice on getting through the ceremony: “He said, ‘Keep smiling.'”

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… and smile he did!

Ringo knighted 2

Originally published at http://ultimateclassicrock.com/ringo-starr-knighted/ Thank you for allowing me to republish it on this blog.

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About the blogger:

Michael Curry is the author of “The Day John F Kennedy Met the Beatles; a story of alternate history” as well as other fiction and non-fiction books.

What if the Beatles played at the White House before John and Jackie Kennedy in 1965? How would it have happened? And why? Written for an historical (fictitious) magazine in 2016, “The Day John F Kennedy Met the Beatles” examines the political and diplomatic reasons for the concert and postulates why both sides agreed to this historic meeting of two icons from the 1960s. John F Kennedy never met the Beatles, but this story asks … what if they did? This short story tells us what might have been.

You can view the book for purchase here: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B01HQQ7F8K