Van Halen Vaults Back into Glam Metal Stratosphere

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!

Alice Cooper for President: Shockingly Glam

     Alice Cooper was born Vincent Damon Furnier in 1948; he is an American rock singer whose career spans more than four decades. Alice Cooper was the inventor of the genre of rock music known as “Shock Rock”, which he achieved by incorporating a mixture of horror and vaudeville with garage band punk lyrics into his act. According to Wikipedia, Alice Cooper used “guillotines, electric chains, fake blood, boa constrictors, and plastic baby dolls” in his act. Although Alice Cooper’s brand of music is more in the distinction of conceptual rock or hard experimental rock, when you view the video from the 1970s UK performance by Alice Cooper(from the then-popular TV Show “Top of the Pops”), you will see there are also origins in Alice Cooper’s music trending towards Glamour Rock and Glitter Rock. And in the spirit of Election Year politics, the song is “Elected” -timeless classic from Alice seeking YOUR VOTE FOR PRESIDENT!  Well, not really but listen to this: Alice Cooper was so innovative in this style of music that he was often compared to another ground-breaking Glam Rock innovator of the 70s, David Bowie.

     Alice Cooper’s roots are in Detroit, Michigan; the band broke into the mainstream of rock music with the 1971 hit “I’m Eighteen” and 1972’s hit “School’s Out”. The commercial peak of the Alice Cooper band’s success was with 1973’s album Billion Dollar Babies. (For this and the following information , see Wikipedia.) In the year 1975, Alice Cooper came out with one of the most conceptual albums of the time, called Welcome to my Nightmare. Ask any rock fan from the 70s era, and most likely they have a copy of that album. In 2011, Alice Cooper released Welcome to My Nightmare 2, and in 2011, the original Alice Cooper band was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. The original Alice Cooper band members are Alice Cooper (Vincent Furnier) on vocals and harmonica, Glen Buxton on lead guitar, Michael Bruce on rhythm guitar, Dennis Dunaway on bass guitar, and Neal Smith on drums. This original band’s roots can be traced back to 1964 when Vincent Furnier at age 16 was eager to enter the annual high school talent show and gathered up some of his classmates to form a group for the show. They called themselves The Earwigs, obtained some used instruments from a local pawn shop in the Detroit area, and mimed their way through some Beatles’ songs, dressing up as the Beatles. The group won the talent show, and loved the experience of being onstage, so they formed a more permanent rock group while still in high school and called themselves The Spiders. Alice Cooper has said that the band’s musical roots include not just the Beatles, but also The Rolling Stones, The Who, The Kinks, The Doors, and The Yardbirds.

     In 1966, the Spiders graduated from High School and the band scored a #1 hit on the radio

with “Don’t Blow Your Mind.” By 1967 the band was making regular trips to L.A. to play gigs. They renamed themselves Nazz and relocated to Los Angeles by the end of the year. In 1968, the band called Nazz had to change their name when they came across the fact that Todd Rundgren already had a band with that name. Furnier thought that the band needed a gimmick to succeed, and chose the name Alice Cooper, because it sounded innocent, in contrast to the band’s look and sound.  Later, Cooper nee Furnier said that the name change was one of the most exigent career moves that the band made. To grab more headlines and generate more controversy, the Alilce Cooper band decided to push the concept of a male villain dressed as a murderess in tattered women’s clothing and makeup. Alice Cooper in his 2007 book Alice Cooper, Golf Monster said that his look was inspired by film, such as Bette Davis in “What Ever Happened to Baby Jane”, where Bette wears caked makeup and smeared eyeliner. (Alice Cooper at one time had difficulty with alcoholism and to become sober took up the game of golf, thereby “trading one addiction for another” hence the self-imposed title “golf monster.”

     After an unsuccessful gig in California, the Alice Cooper band was approached by music impresario Shep Gordon, who arranged an audition with bizarro rock star, Frank Zappa, who was looking to add another act to his record label. Zappa told the band to come to his house at “7 o’clock” for the audition; the band mistakenly thought he meant 7am. Being awakened at 7 in the morning for the Alice Cooper band’s unique hard-rocking sound impressed Frank Z. enough to sign the band to a three record deal. Afterwards, Alice Cooper’s brand of “Shock Rock” happened by accident due to an onstage antic with a stray chicken. Alice Cooper later developed this concept of “Shock Rock” to the hilt, such as the 1971 tour which featured gothic torture models, and a staged execution by electric chair. Taken in its entirety, along with the band’s tight, sequined outfits, and Glam Rock style costumes (designed by rock fashion icon Cindy Dunaway) persuaded Warner Brothers to offer Alice Cooper a multi-recording contract.

     The Alice Cooper band’s first hit was “I’m Eighteen” on the third album Love It to Death. The next album Killer featured hit songs “Under My Wheels” and “Be My Lover.” More hits followed; however, the biggest hit of all, and one that anyone who was a teenager in the 70s recalls precisely, was “Schools Out”, which reached #2 on the charts, and sold over 1 million copies. The next album was Billion Dollar Babies, featuring the hit of the same name, as well as “Elected” and “No More Mr. Nice Guy.” Around this time, the British parliament sought to ban Alice Cooper from performing! due to the stage show where Alice sported a boa constrictor snake, accompanied by the murderous axing of bloodied baby dolls.

     The original Alice Cooper band’s last studio album was 1973’s Muscle of Love with A.C.’s last hit single “Teenage Lament ’74”. In 1975, Alice Cooper released his first solo album Welcome to My Nightmare. To avoid legal complications, Vincent Furnier adopted “Alice Cooper” as his legal name. What followed was a successful solo career with subsequent albums such as Alice Cooper Goes to Hell (1976), Lace and Whiskey (1977). The albums in the 1980s were not as successful, and these included Flush the Fashion (1980), Special Forces (1981), and Zipper Catches Skin (1982). Alice Cooper’s alcohol consumption began to cause considerable problems on tour, affecting Cooper’s onstage performances. During the Welcome to My Nightmare tour in Vancouver, A.C. tripped over a foot light and plunged several hundred feet onto the concrete floor amidst fans, who thought it was all part of the act. However, Welcome to My Nightmare also preceded another ground-breaking event in rock history, which was a prime-time television special called The Nightmare, starring A.C. and Vincent Price, which aired in 1975, and garnered a Grammy nomination.

     The latest update on Alice Cooper, which can be viewed on http://www.alicecooper.com: After finishing up his tour with heavy metal artists Iron Maiden, and continuing to tour around the world this fall, Alice opened up a dedicated maze at Universal Studio Hollywood’s based on A.C.’s album Alice Cooper Goes to Hell. Earlier in the year, A.C. joined on allstar Glam Metal jam with Queens’ Brian May, Deep Purple’s Ian Paice, Whitesnake former guitarist Micky Moody, Led Zeppelin’s John Paul Jones, and Iron Maiden’s Bruce Dickinson.

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

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.

Female Glam Rockers: Joan Jett, Girlschool, Lita Ford

 

 

 

 

 

This is part two of the original post on “Female Glam Rockers: Leathered-Up Queens of Noise”, and features more extensive look at three spectacular female Glamour Rockers in their own right: Joan Jett, Girlschool, and Lita Ford. As stated in the first post, these female rockers held their own with their male counterparts and as such are accepted as having “made their mark” in the fields of heavy metal and Glamour Rock acts, with astounding results musically and professionally.
Joan Jett (born Joan Marie Larkin) is an American-born rock guitarist, singer, and songwriter best known for her work with the Runaways -ground-breaking all-girl rock group in the 1970s- as well as with her solo career as rock musician with Joan Jett and the Blackhearts.  Joan Jett and the Blackhearts had a string of hits in the 80s and 90s, including “I Love Rock N Roll”, which was number one on the Billboard Hot 100 from March to May 1982. Other hits by Joan Jett and the Blackhearts include “Crimson and Clover”, “I Hate Myself for Lovin’ You”, “Bad Reputation” and “Light of Day”.
Joan Jett was born in Wynnewood, Pennsylvania, a suburb of Philadelphia. In her teens in the 1970s, Joan would sneak out at night with friends to attend rock concerts; she received her first guitar at age 13 from her parents at Christmas.(For this and subsequent info, see Wikipedia).Later, Joan’s family moved to West Covina, California (L.A. county) which gave Joan the opportunity to pursue her rock and roll dreams. Suzi Quatro was Joan’s idol, and Joan, as a teenage fan, would wait in the lobby after Quatro’s rock concert perfomances to try to meet the star. Legend has it that they did meet, but details on this encounter most likely would be found on Jett’s website http://www.joanjett.com which has many details about the writing of particular songs by the Runaways as well as with the Blackhearts. Jett adopted Suzi Quatro’s style of shag haircut, leather, and tough-girl rocker stance, musically and lyrically. Around age 16, Joan Jett began hanging out at the only Glamour Rock nightclub in the Los Angeles area called Rodney Bingenheimer’s English Disco, where she met the man who would become the Runaways’ producer, the eccentric Kim Fowley. The rest is an astounding history, and see former post here for more information on The Runaways legendary musical sound and “mass hysteria” tours as the only all-teenage all-girl rock band then, and even to this day do they hold that distinction!
In Spring 1979, Joan Jett was in England pursuing a solo career and recorded several songs with Sex Pistols band members’ Paul Cook and Steve Jones. Jett then returned to L.A. to complete an obligation to finish a film about the Runaways called “We’re All Crazee Now” and during the shoots met Kenny Laguna who then was instrumental in helping Joan form the Blackhearts. She placed an advertisement looking for band members as “looking for three good men” and from these auditions recruited Gary Ryan on bass, Eric Ambel on guitar, and Danny “Furious” O’Brien. After recording demos, the band’s efforts were rejected by 23 major labels, so they decided to form an independent record label “Blackheart Records” and put the record out themselves. Watch the video post on this page to see this documented to the band’s great single “Bad Reputation”.
Girlschool are a British metal band, originating out of the “New Wave British Heavy Metal Scene” in 1978, according to Wikipedia. Girlschool was also frequent collaborators with contemporaries, heavy metal rockers Motorhead. Formed from a school band called Painted Lady, Girlschool enjoyed success with three metal albums in the early 80s but soon lost momentum after that. The principle members of the band are Kim McAuliffe (rhythm guitar, vocals), Dinah Williams (bass guitar), Deidre Cartwright (lead guitar, vocals) and Tina Gayle on drums. Kim McAuliffe was famously quoted as saying “The reason we were all girls is we couldn’t find any blokes to play with us.” Girlschool’s first three albums were Demolition (1980), Hit and Run (1981), and Screaming Blue Murder (1982). Their first single “Take It All Away” was released in 1978, and “Please Don’t Touch” was released in 1981 with Motorhead.
Lita Ford was born Lita Rossana Ford to a British father and Italian mother in London, England. She moved with her family to the U.S. at the age of four and began playing guitar at age eleven. In 1975, she joined the all-girl band The Runaways as lead guitarist. Lita’s lead guitar skills are on par with her male counterparts in heavy metal, and thus, she has toured with Glam Rockers Poison, Motley Crue, Britny Fox, as well as heavy metal rockers Black Sabbath, Judas Priest, Antrax and Iron Maiden. Lita Ford’s first album was released in 1983 entitled Out For Blood; however, Ford scored the most commercial success with her album entitled Lita which went Platinum in the U.S. and Gold in Canada with singles “Kiss Me Deadly”, “Back to the Cave”, and “Falling In & Out of Love”. You can see Lita Ford on tour in 2012 with Heavy Rock group Def Leppard and Glam Metal band Poison.

Female Glam Rockers: Leathered Up & Queens of Noise

[

There are only a handful of all female Glam Rock bands, but these true rock innovators brought about more heavy metal sounds that astounded audiences in the 70s, because at that time, no one ever imagined that girls could rock as hard as boys when it came to rock music. Yet these Glamour Rock girl musicians held their own and earned respect from international audiences and the music community at large, for their heavy metal songs, their musicianship, their sexuality, and to this day there are no equals to: Suzi Quatro, The Runaways, Girlschool, Joan Jett and The Blackhearts, and Lita Ford. This post will talk about Suzi Quatro and The Runaways. Please watch a later post for review of Joan Jett, Lita Ford, and the heavy metal female Glam Rock British band Girlschool.
Many people would agree that Suzi Quatro was the most ground-breaking of the female rockers. To put it succinctly, she was the first, and was the primary role model to The Runaways, an all-teenage girl group that then produced Joan Jett and Lita Ford in Glamour Rock solo careers.Suzi Quatro challenged social norms that “good girls don’t do that” by dressing all in leather, playing bass guitar and singing lead vocals in a hard rock band that produced a string of great hits, all while using sex as a come-on to the music.
Susan Kay “Suzi” Quatro is an American born rock artist from Detroit, who began her career in rock music at the age of 14, when she played bass guitar in the all-female band The Pleasure Seekers and Cradle with her sisters (Wikipedia) According to Quatro’s autobiography, her first bass guitar was a 1957 Fender Precision, given to her by her father. Suzi Quatro was born into a Catholic musical family, in that her father was a part-time jazz musician, and her sister was in another well-known girl group called Fanny. (For this and subsequent history, see Wikipedia)
Quatro moved to England in 1971 after she was discovered in Detroit by record producer Mickie Most; Most produced records by The Animals, Jeff Beck and Donovan. He started his own record label RAK records, which made famous another Glamour Rock group named Mud. Suzi Quatro had a number of blockbuster hits in the 1970s including “Can the Can” (1973), “48 Crash” (1973), “Devil Gate Drive” (1974), and “Your Mama Won’t Like Me” (1975). Quatro’s success waned in the late 70s but she came back with hits “If You Can’t Give Me Love” (1978) and “Stumblin’ In” (1978)–a duet with Chris Norman of Smokie—as well as “Rock Hard” (1980). Suzi Quatro continues to record and tour to this day. See the artist’s website http://www.suziquatro.com for further information. Most recently (2009) Suzi Quatro was selected as one of the “Twelve Queens of British Pop” by BBC TV. (See Wikipedia)
If Suzi Quatro was the Queen of British Pop, then The Runaways were the undisputed “Queens of Noise”. The remarkable story of this all female teenage band of Glam Rockers is well-known to many from the Indie Film The Runaways. The Runaways made less than 10 studio albums, their first two albums The Runaways and Queens of Noise are classic and unsurpassed Glam Rock albums. The Runaways were Cherie Currie (lead singer), Joan Jett (guitarist), Lita Ford (lead guitarist), and Sandy West (drums). It is an illustration of the power of this girl glam rock group that both Joan Jett and Lita Ford went on to form their own Glam Rock bands that achieved international fame on their own. The beginning of the Runaways is this: Guitarist Joan Jett and drummer Sandy West formed the band after being introduced to each other by West Coast (Los Angeles) record producer Kim Fowley. Singer/bassist Micki Steele initially joined the group, and then Lita Ford was added. Steele was fired from the group but later formed another successful female band The Bangles. Lead singer Cherie Currie was discovered at a teen nightclub called The Sugar Shack, followed by bassist Jackie Fox. (Wikipedia). After playing the club and party circuit around L.A., the group was signed to Mercury Records, releasing their debut album The Runaways, which had such great hits as “Cherry Bomb”, “Hollywood”, “Mama Weer All Crazee Now” (cover of a song by Slade), and “Rock and Roll” (cover of a song by The Velvet Underground). After achieving success in the U.S. and abroad, the group embarked on a tour of Japan in 1977 for a series of sold-out shows where they were greeted with mass hysteria everywhere, that Joan Jett later compared to “Beatlemania.” The Runaways at that time rivalled Led Zeppelin and Kiss in Japan for the biggest chart-makers. (See Wikipedia) The group, however, was never the same after an argument between Cherie Currie and Lita Ford in a photo session, famously documented in the film of the same name, which eventually led to Cherie leaving the band, and The Runaways’ fame leaving them soon after.

Lou Reed Underground Glitter

Lou Reed1 (2)Lou Reed2 (2)

Lewis Allan “Lou” Reed is an American rock musician out of New York City, who originated an alternative form of rock music with threads of Glam rock, Glitter rock, Avant Garde, German and French expressionism, Bohemian pop art, as well as punk rock/metal music. all integrated in a beautifully complicated mixture that is often mind-bending and surreal.

During the time that Lou Reed, and with the original group called The Velvet Underground made records, their music was (and still is) unlike anything anyone has ever heard. According to Wikipedia, the Velvet Underground were a “commercial failure” in the late 60s, but due to their dedicated cult-status and following, their albums are regarded as some of the most significant in modern rock music history.This enduring underground following continues to this day with the collaborative efforts in 2011 and 2012 between Lou Reed and the heavy metal group Metallica. Lou Reed was the Velvet Underground’s principal songwriter in the 1960s (until the band disbanded in 1970) and as a songwriter Reed incorporated subjects of “Sex, Drugs and Rock and Roll” –a well-known mantra to heavy metal fans today, but was strictly taboo in that formative era (the 1960s). Rolling Stone magazine wrote, “Lou Reed helped invent punk rock music while writing about femme fatales, black angels, and heroin.”

Lou Reed was born into a Jewish family in Brooklyn and grew up in Long Island. (For this and the following info, see Wikipedia.) Reed reportedly learned to play guitar by listening to the radio, and played in different bands in high school. His first recording was with a Doo Wop group called The Jades. In 1956, Reed received ECT (electro-convulsive therapy or “shock treatments”) as a teenager to try to “cure” his bisexuality. Reed wrote about the experience in his 1974 song, “Kill Your Sons.” Lou Reed began attending Syracuse University in 1960, studying journalism, film directing, and creative writing. In 1961, he hosted a late night radio program on WAE, featuring doo wop, rhythm and blues and jazz.

In 1964, Reed moved to New York City and began working as an inhouse songwriter for Pickwick Records. In 1964, Reed scored a minor hit with “The Ostrich”;

Pickwick assembled a band for Reed around this song, hoping to have a hit, called The Primitives, which included Welsh musician John Cale. (Wikipedia) Reed and Cale lived together on the Lower East Side of Manhattan, and after inviting Reed’s college acquaintances guitarist Sterling Morris and drummer Maureen Tucker to join the group, The Velvet Underground was formed. Rolling Stone described The Velvet Underground’s sound as “dissonant, poignant art songs”. The group caught the attention of avant garde photographer, pop art visual artist Andy Warhol, who decided to became their benefactor and general manager, introducing them to high-art concepts and his Bohemian lifestyle. Lou Reed told Rolling Stone, ” Warhol was one of the greatest people I’ve met in my life,” Reed remarked. “It’s hard to conceive where we would be without him. If he had a gallery opening he took us with him. He fed us.”

Read more: http://www.rollingstone.com/music/news/velvet-underground-tell-tales-about-warhol-nico-at-ny-library-20091209#ixzz1kzMBDvuB

Lou Reed’s songs began to take on more of the reflection of Warhol’s artistic lifestyle to great success, but there was conflict in the group when Warhol stated the Underground should have a chanteuse (female singer), suggesting European model and singer Nico. Not all of the band members agreed with this, and their debut album was entitled The Velvet Underground and Nico, to note that Nico was not actually part of the group. Although the album did not initially do well, Rolling Stone has said it is one of the most influential albums of all time. Between 1966 and 1970, the Velvet Underground recorded four “classic, highly influential albums.” (Rolling Stone)

Rolling Stone magazine wrote that Lou Reed’s departure from the Velvet Underground was “bitter” (http://www.rollingstone.com) in August 1970. Reed briefly took a job as a typist at his father’s tax accounting firm (see Wikipedia) but a year later, however, he signed a recording contract with RCA, which included top session musicians from the rock group Yes. In 1972, Reed released Transformer, which David Bowie and Mick Ronson co-produced. It yielded Lou Reed’s only top 20 hit “Walk on the Wild Side” (1973), an ode to some of the flamboyant Bohemian artists surrounding Andy Warhol. With Bowie’s aid, Reed transformed into Glitter Rock, his signature camp style including bleach-blond hair and black fingernail polish. “Glam Rock was the rage and Lou Reed was a central figure,” according to Rolling Stone. Another single from the album was “A Perfect Day”. There was a falling-out between Reed and Bowie, but their friendship was reconciled in 1997 with a Madison Square Garden appearance by both, and Bowie’s collaboration on Lou Reed’s album Raven (2003).In the1970s, Lou Reed’s best-known albums were Berlin(1973), Sally Can’t Dance (1974), and Rock N Roll Animal (1975).Rock N Roll Animal became Reed’s biggest-selling record to date (Wikipedia).

Lou Reed’s music recording, performance, and artistic career is extremely prolific. Please visit Wikipedia, RollingStone.com, or LouReed.com for more extensive history. Currently, Lou Reed and Metallica have a musical collaboration called “LULU”; the website http://www.loureedmetallica.com describes it as “inspired by German expressionist writer Frank Wiedekind’s plays”.

bestmusicblogs.org

Mott The Hoople “Young Dudes” Glam Rock

The advertisement to the 2010 documentary on the band, entitled “The Ballad of Mott the Hoople” (see http://www.music-news.com for details) leads off with this statement, “The ballad begins with four lads from Herefordshire [England] who, in the 1960s, fell under the spell of musicians like Little Richard. So impressed were they that they set off for the big city of London to indulge in their newly found passion.” Essentially, Mott the Hoople were an English rock band who came to prominence in the Glam Rock era of the early 1970s, primarily after they were discovered by David Bowie, who gave them the song “All the Young Dudes”, which became their vehicle to fame. According to Wikipedia, Mott the Hoople began as two separate “beat” bands in the 1960s, which featured Pete Overend Watts on bass guitar, Verden Allen on organ/piano, Mick Ralphs on guitar, Dale “Buffin” Griffin on drums, and Stan Tippens on vocals, eventually forming a rock’n’roll group they called “Doc Thomas”, then “Shakedown Sound” , and then finally “The Silence”. Silence recorded demos at Rockfield studios in Wales and were submitted to record labels EMI, Polydor, and Apple with no success. (See Wikipedia). One record label did notice them, which was Island records, who agreed to sign the band, but not with Tippens as lead singer. Guy Stevens at Island wanted them to replace the lead singer, so ads were placed, according to Wikipedia, which read “Singer wanted, must be image-minded and hungry”; Ian Hunter was selected as lead singer and piano player, and Tippens became the band’s road manager.
Island records’ manager Stevens had read a book while in prison (for drug charges) by one Willard Manus called Mott the Hoople, and he decided he had to find a band to match the name. The book is about a circus freak show. The band reluctantly agreed to the name change upon Stevens’ urging. Mott the Hoople’s debut album of the same name, Mott the Hoople (1969) became a cult success and now is regarded as one of the top ten Glamour Rock music albums of all time. The rock band’s next three albums did not achieve the same level of success; they were Mad Shadows (1970), Wildfire (1971), and Brain Capers (1971). According to Wikipedia, after a dismal show at a former gas holder [gas containment industrial area] in Switzerland, the band was close to breaking up.
David Bowie had been a long-time fan of the rock group, and upon hearing that they were going to disband, persuaded them to record one of his songs, to break into the top selling UK music charts. They turned down “Suffragete City” but accepted “All the Young Dudes” and it became their biggest hit, released in 1972. In an element of some confusion, David Bowie also produced an album of his own, also called All the Young Dudes. Mott the Hoople was going to record another Bowie song “Drive-In Saturday” but their arrangement did not satisfy Bowie, and their professional relationship ended in 1972. (Wikipedia). The next album during those Glam years was Mott, which climbed to the top 10 in the UK Albums chart, and this was also the bands biggest US seller.
The band went through several changes in line-up, and although it seems incredible now, there was an expose in a rock magazine at the time called New Musical Express that said Tippens had sung back-up on the bands’ albums and this caused a furor! By today’s standards, this seems quaint, but it led to a group shakeup. Mick Ralphs left in 1973 to form Bad Company. Mick Ronson, David Bowie’s guitarist, replaced Ariel Bender. When Mick Ronson and Ian Hunter left to pursue solo efforts in 1974, this was the beginning of the end for Mott the Hoople. However, in 1974, their tour of America was supported by Queen, and this tour provided inspiration for Queen’s 1975 single “Now I’m Here” with the lyrics “Down in the city, just Hoople and me”, as well as the inspiration for Ian Hunter’s book about the tour Diary of a Rock’N’Roll Star. It also resulted in lifelong friendships between Hunter, Ronson, and Bowie, who performed together for the Freddie Mercury concert tribute in 1992.
Ian Hunter began a successful solo career while joining forces with Mick Ronson. Ian Hunter had actually met Ronson pre-Bowie years and had noticed his elegance as a sensational guitarist. Ian Hunter’s best known solo album was Once Bitten, Twice Shy (later covered by Great White) as well as Cleveland Rocks. See Wikipedia for complete discography of Ian Hunter’s solo albums from 1975 with Ian Hunter, to 2009 with Man Overboard.
After lead singer Ian Hunter left Mott the Hoople, the band had little success with albums Drive On (1975) and Shouting and Pointing (1976). In 1990 some former members of The Silence recorded songs from earlier days resulting in 1998 The Italian Job. In 1996, K-Tel released a CD purported to be the best of Mott the Hoople, but was actually a tribute band, and K-Tel was subsequently fined. (See Wikipedia). In 2005, it was reported in Classic Rock that Hunter was offered a seven-figure sum to reunite the band, and on January 16, 2009, it was announced the band would reunite for two concerts at the Hammersmith Apollo in London October 2009, where all five original members of the band participated. Please see both Ian Hunter’s website and Mott the Hoople’s website for latest updates and tune back in for an exclusive podcast featuring Mott the Hoople, Guns N Roses, and Nazareth!

blog directory
Music blog

Nazareth Glam Metal

Nazareth was a Scottish hard rock (and Glam Rock) band that had several hits in the UK and USA in the early 1970s, garnering international fame with the release of their hard-rocking, unforgettable album Hair of the Dog. Nazareth’s most famous hits from this record album were “Love Hurts” and “Hair of the Dog”, made well-known by the guitar hooks and lyrics of “Now You’re Messin’ with a Son of a Bitch!” Nazareth was formed in 1968 in Dunfermline, Scotland from a local group named The Shadettes (see Wikipedia) by vocalist Dan McCafferty, guitarist Manny Charlton, bass guitarist Pete Agnew, and drummer Darrell Sweet.  According to Wikipedia, the fledgling band took their name from the city of Nazareth, Pennsylvania. Nazareth as a band still records and tours today, and there is a complete history of the band on their website http://www.nazarethdirect.co.uk. On this website, Nazareth writes that in the early days the “Scottish promoters and ballroom managers insisted on [Scottish] groups limiting their music set-list to strictly cover singles in the UK Top 30” and that the band decided that if they were going to make it in the music business,that they would need to move to London. Nazareth writes this they did and in doing so “quitting good day jobs and moving to a grotty communal flat in London” in 1970.

The band released their debut album Nazareth in 1971, but it was not until their third album Razamanaz (produced by Roger Glover of Deep Purple) that the band began to receive recognition, with two U.K. hits, “Broken Down Angel”, and “Bad Bad Boy”. Following this came the album,

Loud N Proud (1973) which contained a cover of a song by folksinger Joni Mitchell “This Flight Tonight.” Nazareth’s fifth album was Rampant (1974) with the single “Shanghai’ed in Shanghai”. The website for Nazareth (often referred to as “Naz” by the band themselves) states this: “Musically, 1974’s Rampant was a move towards metal and it was also the last of three albums produced by Deep Purple’s Roger Glover before Naz’ Manny Charlton took over.” (http://www.nazarethdirect.co.uk). In 1975, Nazareth catapulted to international stardom with the release of Hair of the Dog with monster hits “Love Hurts” and “Hair of the Dog”. The Nazareth website states that their label “Mooncrest” “still badly wanted another hit so Naz recorded the Everly Brothers’ hit “Love Hurts.” This went nowhere in England but was Top 10 in America, and then in Norway, it reached #1 and stayed there for 40 weeks.” The Wikipedia reference described this as “60 weeks” on the Norweigen/European charts! You can decide which is correct! Also according to Wikipedia, a second guitarist Zal Cleminson was added in 1979 for Nazareth’s album No Mean City and Malice in Wonderland.  Wiki also said that in 1981 Nazareth contributed the song “Crazy (Suitable for Treatment)” to the soundtrack for the film Heavy Metal.  Nazareth continued to tour and record in the 80s and 90s as their popularity began to wane, although they remained popular in Europe, particularly Germany.

The most recent updates on the band come from their website http://www.nazarethdirect.co.uk: “2004 saw the band head out to the USA, Russia, Israel and Europe with a welcome return to the UK.” and “2008 marks the 40th anniversary (of the original band’s formation in 1968)”

Nazareth’s newest album, just released, is called Big Dogz, released for 2012.

blog directory
Music blog

Glamour Rock /Heavy Metal Podcast

Glam Rock Podcast with Slade/NyDolls/GNRHello and welcome once again to GlamRockStar’s Podcast. The following Podcast, posted on 10.15.11 features these Glamour Rock Music songs and artists. TUNE IN and TURN ON. Also, at the end of the Podcast, guess the name of the “Mystery Song” and send an email with your guess. If you guess correctly, you will win a VINTAGE ROCK T-SHIRT. So listen to these great Glamour Rock Classic Songs.

ARTIST                                                               SONG

SLADE                               “Look Wot You Dun”, “Take Me Back Ome”, “Mama Weer All Crazee Now”

NEW YORK DOLLS        “Personality Crisis”, “Looking for a Kiss”

GUNS N ROSES               “Welcome to the Jungle,” “Night Train”, “Out Ta Get Me”

You can also CLICK HERE to download and listen to this podcast! ROCK ON

Music Festival News

Festival & travel blog