Archive for the Rock Stars Category

Van Halen Vaults Back into Glam Metal Stratosphere

Posted in Entertainment, Glam Metal Rock Music, Glam Rock, Heavy Metal Music, Metal Rock, Music, Rock Music, Rock Stars with tags , , , , , , , , , , on January 6, 2013 by glamrock4ever

Van Halen2Van Halen1Van Halen3Van Halen is primarily an American hard rock band with roots in the Netherlands (the original birthplace of the Van Halen brothers, Alex and Eddie Van Halen, being Nijmegan, Netherlands), heavy metal guitar rock riffs and hooks, with coincident Glam Rock music status, “spotlight on” the flamboyance and over-the-top hypersexuality of lead singer David Lee Roth. The main focal point of the band’s overwhelming popularity has been the guitar virtuosity of Eddie Van Halen, mixed with the onstage antics and attractiveness of  David Lee Roth. The 1978 debut album of the band, entitled Van Halen, is widely regarded as one of the music albums that changed the course of rock music history, leading the way for the music genre of heavy metal to evolve in upcoming decades. (For this and more band history, see Wikipedia.) The band members at that time, at the group’s inception were: Eddie Van Halen (lead guitarist), David Lee Roth (lead vocals), Alex Van Halen (drums), and Michael Anthony (bassist).

The RIAA (Recording Industry Association of America), has listed Van Halen as the 19th best-selling band/artist in United States history, with sales of over 56 million albums in the U.S. and over 86 million albums worldwide. Also, Van Halen is only one of five rock groups that have had two albums sell more than 10 million albums each.

Eddie Van Halen and Alex Van Halen are the sons of musician Jan Van Halen, who arranged for them to have music lessons. The Van Halen brothers started playing music together in the 1960s, with interestingly, Eddie playing piano and drums and Alex playing guitar! One day when Eddie found out that Alex had been playing his drums, Eddie decided, out of frustration, to start playing Alex’s guitar: youthful beginnings to the foundation of astounding guitar musicianship to come in the form of Eddie Van Halen’s heavy metal style, most definitely an innovator for all time.

In 1972,in California, the Van Halen brothers formed a group named “Genesis” while renting a sound system from David Lee Roth in the process. In order to save money on renting the sound system, the brothers decided to offer Lee Roth lead vocals in a bartering deal, to which then led to David Lee Roth becoming a permanent part of the band. By 1974, the rock group decided to replace then bassist Mark Stone with Michael Anthony, who was then performing in a band called “Snake.” The band later changed their name to “Mammouth” after finding out that there was already another band with the name “Genesis.” The name “Van Halen” for the band was introduced by David Lee Roth, who thought the name suggested power. The band Van Halen started playing at parties and other local gigs around Hollywood and Pasadena, California, while also passing out flyers to their gigs to local high schools in the Hollywood, California area. This garnered the band a huge following and from that, Van Halen started to establish themselves as headliners at  mainstream  L.A. nightclubs of the 1970s, including the famous Whisky a GoGo.

Van Halen recorded their first demo tape at Cherokee Studios (now defunct), also the recording studio for Steely Dan at the time. Van Halen’s career began to intensify when the famous rock music impresario Rodney Bingenheimer checked out the band at the L.A. club Gazzari in the summer of 1976, and being quite impressed took Gene Simmons of KISS to see them. Gene Simmons then produced a demo tape in New York, presented them to his managers, but being told “no chance whatsoever”, he discontinued further involvement with the fledgling group. (See Wikipedia)  Van Halen’s pursuit of the “Rock N Roll dream” began to heat up even more when two Warner Brothers’ record executives (Mo Ostin and Ted Templeman) saw Van Halen perform at the Starwood in Hollywood; the execs were so dazzled that they offered the band an extensive recording contract within a week. Upon its’ release, the debut album Van Halen reached number 19 on the Billboard pop music charts, one of rock’s most commercially successful inaugurations. The album contained these classic songs by Van Halen, “Runnin’ With the Devil” and “Eruption”-showcasing Eddie Van Halen’s guitar mastery.

The band returned to the studio in 1978 to record Van Halen II, which resulted in the band’s first hit single “Dance the Night Away.” Over the next album, Van Halen was prolific with album releases and touring: Their Women and Children (1980), Fair Warning (1981), Diver Down (1982), and then the pinnacle of their career, Van Halen’s 1984 (1984) , which showcased such monster hits as “Panama”, “Jump”, “I’ll Wait”, and “Hot for Teacher.” The album generated three music videos on MTV and debuted at number 2 on the Billboard chart’s, behind Michael Jackson‘s Thriller. The album, although a huge profit-maker, was also a breaking-point for the band! The ginormous egos of the band’s two massive stars, Eddie Van Halen, and David Lee Roth, had had several explosive tangles in the past, but now their differences were at fast forward fury. Lee Roth reportedly was upset about Eddie playing outside the band without the other members’ permission and  Eddie’s drug abuse (alleged) that prevented certain viable practice sessions. Eddie was sick of Roth’s flamboyant stage behavior and at times ridiculous antics, and both differed in their view of the band’s image/direction for the future.

During this time in 1985, Eddie Van Halen, as the group’s leader, began to look around for lead singers to replace David Lee Roth. He invited Patti Smyth of Scandal to replace Lee Roth but she refused. Eddie was then introduced to another singer, Sammy Hagar, who he knew from a mutual auto mechanic. Drumroll please as we are now entering the crucial phase of the endless debate amongst Van Halen fans of which singer is better: David Lee Roth or Sammy Hagar?HA  Visit any Youtube page of Van Halen music videos and fans are still debating this to this day. Sammy Hagar had had a hit with Warner records with “I Can’t Drive 55”, had an album with Montrose, and agreed to join the band, also adding his skills as rhythm guitarist to deepen the sound. The 1986 album 5150 (named after the address for Eddie Van Halen’s studio) was a success, with keyboard-driven singles such as “Why Can’t This Be Love”, “Dreams”, and “Love Walks In.” A new Van Halen logo was added to the album art, symbolizing the band changes. The band had many more triumphant studio albums  during the reign of Sammy Hagar, which lasted until 1996. It was in the Hagar era that Van Halen was nominated for two Grammy awards, winning an award for Best Hard Rock Performance in 1992. Success often breeds discontent amongst stars, and because of disputes between Hagar and Eddie Van Halen, Hagar’s career as lead singer ended in 1996. Hagar claimed he was fired; Van Halen said that he quit. Overall, it was a technicality of sorts, because the Van Halen band members had been secretly recording tracks with David Lee Roth again, which led Hagar to quit/be fired.

There is further detailed and extensive history on this ground-breaking band. (See Wikipedia for more information and citations). On March 12, 2007, Van Halen was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and were introduced by Velvet Revolver. Michael Anthony and Sammy Hagar were the only members (both ex-members at that time) in attendance. In 2012, Van Halen released A Different Kind of Truth -their first album in 14 years (since 1998’s Van Halen III). It is the first Van Halen album to feature Eddie Van Halen’s son, Wolfgang on bass ( and still in high school!)  in place of Michael Anthony. It is also the first album to feature David Lee Roth’s vocals in over 15 years. Van Halen announced a tour to support the album, from 2012 to 2013. The Van Halen News Desk reports that Guitar World named A Different Kind of Truth as the #1 album of the year (for 2012) and Rolling Stone named “Stay Frosty” in their “50 best songs” (of 2012). Keep up with the mighty Van Halen at http://www.vhnd.com!

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“Flash-in-the-Pan” Glam: Silverhead & Mud

Posted in Entertainment, Glam Metal Rock Music, Glam Rock, Rock Music, Rock Stars with tags , , , , , , , , on May 21, 2012 by glamrock4ever

Silverhead were a British band led by singer Michael Des Barres, with Robbie Blunt on guitar, Rod Davies on guitar, percussion, and vocals, Nigel Harrison on bass guitar, and Pete Thompson on drums, keyboards, and vocals. (For this and the following information, see Wikipedia). Silverhead were part of the Glam Rock scene in Britain in the 1970s before the group disbanded in 1974. They recorded two albums: Silverhead (1972) and 16 and Savaged (1973). In April 2012, the band reunited in Tokyo, Japan for a set of concert dates much to the delight of their die-hard Glitter Rock fans. The global story of Silverhead is a bit of a mystery for true Glam Rock followers who have wondered, “what the heck happened?”- that this fantastic band simply disappeared off of the map in the mid-70s when they were headed for Glitter fame and fortune? The answer has finally come about this many decades later, as documented in classicrockmagazine.com: “Silverhead were regarded at the start of the 70s as the British band that would follow T-Rex and David Bowie into the stratosphere of Glam Rockers who had it all.” The truly fascinating story follows and may indeed have you on the edge of your seat, as it did this rock blogger! Silverhead fans will definitely want to read the full-version on http://www.classicrockmagazine.com. According to that website, drummer Pete Thompson, who now lives in Texas, said, “We had it all. The glam, the rock ‘n’roll, the sex appeal, the nastiness…Everything was going our way. And if you saw us live, then you’ll know we really could deliver.”  Again, read the full story by Malcolm Dome on the website, but what happened next is astonishing! Silverhead were set to tour the states on a six-week tour with Fleetwood Mac; only, it wasn’t the real Fleetwood Mac but a bogus group using the F.Mac name! The group Silverhead was sent to Los Angeles once this was discovered while their management company figured out what to do next. (Obviously Silverhead did not tour with the F. Mac imposters.) So get this: when the band returned to Britain, they walked into their manager’s office at the record label, about to embark on a tour of Japan, when they were told that they were all out of a job, and that they could no longer use the Silverhead name or record! What?! How bizarre! From Malcolm Dome’s report, it took “Thompson a few years to recover” and drummer Thompson is quoted as saying, “I was so angry I didn’t play drums for a long time.”

     The other short-lived Glam flash-in-the-pan rock group to be discussed here is Mud. Mud were an English Glitter rock band formed in 1968, best-known for their single “Tiger Feet.” According to Wikipedia, Mud had 14 top 20 hits in the U.K. between 1973-1976. The band members of Mud were Les Gray (lead vocals), Rob Davis (lead guitarist), Ray Stiles (bass guitarist), and Dave Mount (drummer). They signed to Mickie Most’s RAK records and had their first hit with “Crazy.” (For this and the following band history, see Wikipedia.)  The other hits by Mud include “Tiger Feet” (1974), “Lonely This Christmas” (1974), “Oh Boy” cover of Buddy Holly hit (1975), and “Shake It Down” (1976). The final performance of the group Mud with original band members was in 1990 for Dave Mount’s wedding. Les Gray also toured with “Les Gray’s Mud” from 1980-1985. Ray Stiles joined the Hollies; Rob Davis went on to write several dance hits. Dave Mount went into the insurance business. He also appeared in an episode of BBC TV’s Never Mind the Buzzcocks in November 2005 which type-cast Mount as a washed-up, has-been rock star. On 12.2.06, Mud drummer Dave Mount committed suicide.

     Although both these Glam Rock bands had a short history, they are still worth listening to, this many years later. Just ask any Silverhead or Mud fan. They’ll tell you.

KISS Glitter Rock Party

Posted in Entertainment, Glam Metal Rock Music, Glam Rock, Heavy Metal Music, Metal Rock, Rock Stars with tags , , , , , , , , , on December 1, 2011 by glamrock4ever

Kiss (often written as KISS) is an American rock band that brought about their own unique form of Glitter Rock and Metal Rock music; they were formed in New York City in 1973. What characterizes their brand of American Glam Rock is their facepaint -often looking like real-life comicbook heroes- the constant themes of sex and seduction in their song lyrics, their catchy, iconic guitar riffs, and their astounding stage theatrics such as rockets, firebreathing, and fake blood consumed/vomited by Gene Simmons. According to Wikipedia, KISS has been awarded 28 gold albums, the most for any American band. The original classic lineup for KISS consisted of Paul Stanley (guitar, vocals), Ace Frehley (lead guitar, vocals), Gene Simmons (bass guitar, vocals), and Peter Criss (drums, vocals).
What has captivated worldwide audiences for over 35 years now by KISS has been the elaborate stage makeup that the band members, up until their famous 1983 “unmasking”, were rarely seen without. Indeed, some fans would have preferred that the comic book illusion continued, while others thought it just added to the reality of the group. Not everyone is a fan of Gene Simmons in the cable reality TV series “Family Jewels”, and some thought Gene has come across as almost obnoxious. Anyway, the makeup, according to Kiss themselves, were from fan suggestions. Paul Stanley has the star on his face (Starchild), Gene Simmons has the garish Halloween-type makeup (Demon), Ace Frehley’s makeup and costuming suggested Alien worlds (Spaceman), and Peter Criss looked like a cat (Catman). KISS continues to tour and record to this day, but with only Paul Stanley and Gene Simmons from the original lineup. Ace Frehley and Peter Criss left in 1982 over creative differences, rejoined the group in 1996 and 1997 for high grossing worldwide tours, then left the band again shortly thereafter.
KISS began with Gene Simmons and Paul Stanley in New York City in 1972 forming a group called Wicked Lester (see Wikipedia for this and the following information). They came across an ad in Rolling Stone placed by Peter Criss, and with Criss as an addition to the group shortly thereafter began experimenting with various costumes and stage theatrics, drawing upon American Glitter acts such as The New York Dolls and Alice Cooper. In 1973, the band added guitarist Ace Frehley; reportedly, the band came up with the name “Kiss” while driving around New York City. Criss mentioned that he had been in a band called “Lips” and Simmons suggested “What about ‘Kiss’?”, while Frehley drew the iconic logo, with the double “S” looking like lightning bolts. Because the double “S” also possibly connotated Nazism to some, the logo had to be modified in Germany. The first KISS performance, according to the band’s website, http://www.kissonline.com, was in a venue called “The Popcorn Club” in Queens 1973 to an audience of three people.
On March 13, 1973, the band recorded a five song demo tape and Bill Aucoin (former TV director) offered to become the band’s manager. The band entered Bell Sound Studios in New York City in October 1973 to begin recording their first album, and performed as an opening act for Blue Oyster Cult. It was during this concert when Simmons first set his hair ablaze in his firebreathing stunt onstage.
Kiss’ first album was entitled KISS and released Feb. 18, 1974 with hits “Nothin’ to Lose”, “Firehouse”, and “Black Diamond”. In 1974, the band performed “Firehouse” on the Mike Douglas Show, which featured an interview with Gene Simmons that made the studio audience fairly uncomfortable. The next album, Hotter than Hell, fared better (KISS initially only sold 75,000 copies) with the band’s now trademark song “Rock and Roll All Nite”. By 1975, the record label Casablanca was almost bankrupt, and the group needed a smash…which came in the form of their next release -a double live album set called Alive! which went to gold status, and almost every teenager in the 1970s would own.
The band’s history is quite extensive; for the most detailed timeline, see KISS’ website, http://www.kissonline.com. The group continued to gain more and more exposure, and worldwide fame, with the success of albums Destroyer (1976), Rock and Roll Over (1976), Love Gun (1977), and a second live album Alive II (1977). Between 1976 and 1978, KISS earned $17.7 million from recording royaties and publishing. In Japan, KISS performed five sold out shows breaking the Beatles record at the same venue.
KISS will embark on a 100 city worldwide tour following the release of their next album, Monster, due out June 2012.

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