Posts Tagged ‘obit’

“Before Elvis, Jerry Lee and Chuck Berry, there was Fats.” That’s what Greg Harris, Rock Hall President and CEO, said of Fats Domino, born Antoine Domino Jr. “His sweet voice, rolling boogie-woogie piano, and delightful charisma made him a top-selling artist, a worldwide rock star and an inaugural member of the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame.”

I think the Pitchfork headline is true: “A Rock’n’Roll Pioneer Too Often Overlooked.” He didn’t run hot, like Little Richard or the artists Harris mentioned. Fats was cool, in control.

Fats Domino may not have been the most flamboyant rock and roller of the Fifties, but he was certainly the figure most rooted in the worlds of blues, rhythm & blues and the various strains of jazz that gave rise to rock and roll.”

Commercially, he outsold all of his contemporaries except Elvis. The Guardian noted that he “shaped the course of popular music over and over again.” In fact, “You could argue for the rest of your life about what constitutes the first rock’n’roll record… But Fats Domino’s 1949 single The Fat Man has a stronger claim than most.

The first time I ever heard Lady Madonna, I was not 100% sure it was by the Beatles. Indeed, Paul McCartney made it clear that he was trying to do Fats Domino. And Fats covered the song, which I have on some compilation album of black artists performing tracks by the Beatles. “Ain’t That a Shame was the first song John Lennon learned to play.”

Some declared Fats Domino dead during Katrina. He lived to laugh about it. “His grand piano was destroyed. Many of his two dozen gold records were carried away by floodwaters, NOLA.com reported. But he was okay.”

Listen to Fats Domino (piano, vocals; born February 26, 1928, died October 25, 2017):

Blueberry Hill on Austin City Limits

Ain’t That a Shame

I’m Walkin’

Everybody’s Got Something To Hide Except Me And My Monkey

In the spring of 1995, a friend of mine working with a band fronted by Pete Droge, who was opening for Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers. They came to Albany to play at the Knickerbocker Arena.

After their set, my exhausted friend left, and so did I, hearing only the first couple songs of the Petty concert. But I figured I’d see him and the Heartbreakers again someday, which proved to be incorrect.

Petty was very popular at FantaCo in the 1980s. My boss Tom had this weird affection of changing the lyrics of the songs from Girl to Squirrel. American Squirrel, Here Comes My Squirrel. It was weird but sort of funny.

I talways thought that the Traveling Wilburys Vol 2 was the collective albums that the artists put out between Vol. 1 and Vol. 3. This would, of course, include Tom Petty’s first “solo” album Full Moon Fever, which featured Free Fallin’ and I Won’t Back Down.

The latter song seemed to be Petty’s mantra, such as fighting with his record company over its failed attempt to raise the price of one of his album. I remember an urgent version at that TV concert after 9/11.

Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers backed Johnny Cash on his second American Recordings album, Unchained (1996). It won a country album Grammy, but I foolishly thought it would be a big crossover hit. It only got up to #170, and lasted a mere two weeks. Tells you what I know.

Someone was mourning the death of Tom Petty on Facebook, and some jerk said that if you didn’t mourn the folks killed and wounded in Las Vegas, to which someone asked, “Can’t you do both?” Be sad about mass murder AND the loss of someone who had provided part of the soundtrack of their lives for the past four decades?

I’m going to wait awhile, maybe October 20, 2020, which would have been his 70th birthday, before I decide my favorite Tom Petty songs. But these are a few that came to mind in the past few days:

Refugee – Tom Petty and The Heartbreakers

Even the Losers – Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers

Stop Draggin’ My Heart Around – Stevie Nicks with Tom Petty

Free Fallin’ – Tom Petty

End Of The Line – The Traveling Wilburys

It’s Good To Be King – Tom Petty

You Don’t Know How It Feels – Tom Petty

You Wreck Me – Tom Petty

Walls (Circus) – Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers

I Won’t Back Down – Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers (from “America” A Tribute to Heroes”)

Plus Coverville 1188: Tom Petty Tribute

And here are just some of the stories I read:

Obit

Tom Petty Was Perhaps Rock’s Greatest Writer of First Lines

Tom Petty Was Rock ’n’ Roll’s Ambassador to the World Even if he would have been the last one to admit it

Remembering Tom Petty’s Quirky Roles in The Postman and King of the Hill

Why the Loss of Tom Petty Feels So Deeply Personal

Tom Petty’s final interview: There was supposed to have been so much more

When Hugh Hefner died recently, I didn’t think I’d have much to say about his passing. But the appreciation articles, followed by the excoriation of same, I’m finding really fascinating.

On one side, The New York Times:

Hefner advocated for “‘The Playboy Philosophy,’ in which he addressed topics like the First Amendment and sexual mores. He advocated gay rights.” Arthur tells a fascinating story about how The Playboy Foundation provided help AND, tellingly, how that assistance was received.

“He pushed for women’s access to birth control and abortion. He discussed censorship as well as what constituted ‘obscene’ in the United States, and he promoted the free exchange of thoughts and ideas.

“He integrated his staff and membership; he hired men and women of all races, and often provided black comedians and musicians their first chances to perform in front of white audiences.” This included the late Dick Gregory.

“Mr. Hefner also set up the Playboy Foundation, which supported First Amendment rights, often contributing to defendants in free-speech cases. The foundation went on to support other works, including research on post-traumatic stress disorder, commissions on Agent Orange and programs and organizations for veterans.”

On the other hand, there are pieces such as this one which says that those “media outlets across the country released touching memoirs, obituaries, and photographs of the mogul who made a fortune parading nude women in public like pieces of meat dangled in front of wild animals.” Or this one, which referred to Hefner as an “abusive creep.”

From here: “Hefner feels that his media empire has been a liberating force for women, that what some feminists might consider sexual exploitation, he considers a chance to strut their stuff and fly in the face of Puritanical bondage.”

I admit that, in the latter ’70s and early ’80s, I picked up an issue or two, not for the centerfold, but generally for who was being interviewed. I think I got the one with Presidential candidate Jimmy Carter from 1976, in which he admitted having had “lust in his heart.” I’m positive I got the January 1981 issue – it’s probably still in the attic somewhere – for it contained the interview with John Lennon and Yoko Ono that hit the newsstands around the time that John was killed.

Yet I always felt mildly guilty purchasing it. Even though I wasn’t going to church at the time, maybe I was part of the supposedly chaste America that Hefner was trying to break down.

Back in 2012, many of those Playboy interviews were online for free. And about four dozen are still available on Amazon Prime gratis, or for 99 cents on regular Amazon, including Marlon Brando, Bob Dylan, Stephen King, Ayn Rand, Miles Davis, Martin Luther King Jr, Bette Davis, Hunter S. Thompson, Stanley Kubrick and Fidel Castro.

Playboy published science fiction by Ray Bradbury, Arthur C. Clarke, Harlan Ellison, and Ursula K. LeGuin, and many other provocative pieces. The magazine paid better than average for articles and cartoons.

I thought even early on that the “Mansion-bunnies-RatPack mentality” of Playboy was weird and contrived and more than a little uncomfortable. Here are some clips from the music show Playboy After Dark. Hef was not as cool as he thought he was, as he introduces The Three Dog Night and The Grand Funk Railroad.

If you had asked me a couple weeks ago what I thought of Steely Dan, I would have said I liked them well enough, though I have rarely blogged about them in the 12+ years I’ve been doing this. But after Walter Becker, half of the core duo with Donald Fagan, died this month at the age of 67 (!), I realized how much more engaged with the band than I had realized.

For one thing, I discovered that I owned all nine of their core albums, The Royal Scam on cassette (!) and all the others pictured here on vinyl, including that greatest hits album and Donald Fagan’s The Nightfly. The latter two Steely Dan albums, which came out after a 20-year hiatus, and a different GH compilation I have on CD.

For another, people were posting lyrics on Facebook, with no citations, and I knew, and loved, them all. “No static at all” – FM, from a movie I’ve never seen. “Is there gas in the car? Yes, there’s gas in the caaar!” – Kid Charlemagne. And my favorite, “She don’t remember Queen of Soul” – Hey, Nineteen.

The group, which was actually a band, including future Doobie Brother Jeff (Skunk) Baxter, when I first bought Can’t Buy a Thrill around 1973, became a pair with various sidemen, including future Doobie Brother Michael McDonald; I hear his vocal so clearly in songs such as Peg. Only Becker and Fagan are in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, inducted in 2001.

I never saw them perform live, but listen to what is billed as What Is Probably the Greatest Steely Dan Show Ever, in 1974. Also, watch Steely Dan’s Final Concert With Walter Becker. “Group played a career-spanning set in Greenwich, Connecticut on May 27th.”

There are too many songs that I love to pick a Top 10 list. In addition to FM, they might include these, most of which I won’t find links to, for time’s sake:

Can’t Buy a Thrill – Do It Again, Dirty Work, Reelin’ in the Years
Countdown to Ecstasy – Bodhisattva, My Old School
Pretzel Logic – Rikki Don’t Lose That Number, East St. Louis Toodle-Oo
Katy Lied – Black Friday, Bad Sneakers, Doctor Wu
Royal Scam – Kid Charlemagne, The Fez, Haitian Divorce, title track
Aja – Deacon Blues, Peg
Gaucho – Babylon Sisters, Hey Nineteen
Two Against Nature – Gaslighting Abbie, title track

Also, Coverville 1184: Walter Becker Tribute & Steely Dan Cover Story II

Jonathan Demme died at the age of 73 from esophageal cancer. The Boston Globe called him a populist of the best sort.

From Rolling Stone: “In 1987, Demme was nominated for a Best Music Video, Long Form Grammy for his work on “Sun City: Artists Against Apartheid.” Van Zandt co-founded the Artists United Against Apartheid with Arthur Baker and they produced the anti-apartheid song ‘Sun City‘ and the album of the same name.

“‘[Demme’s] contribution to ‘Sun City’ was pivotal in getting Nelson Mandela released and ending the South African apartheid,’ Van Zandt added. ‘He was a saint…'”

Also: “[Bruce] Springsteen won an Academy Award for Best Original Song for “Streets of Philadelphia,” which was featured in the Demme-directed film Philadelphia that stars Tom Hanks. Demme also directed the music video for the song.”

Of Demme’s most famous documentary, Wired wrote: “Stop Making Sense Is Still the Concert Film All Others Try to Be.” I’m very partial to that vintage of Talking Heads’ music, since I saw the band at the Saratoga Performing Arts Center on that tour, one of my two favorite concert experiences ever.

I was a big fan of Demme’s breakout film, Melvin and Howard (1980), and of Swimming to Cambodia (1987 Spaulding Gray documentary), but I’ve never seen his Academy Award-winning The Silence of the Lambs, though it was on HBO when I was visiting my parents at one point.

WATCH AND LISTEN to these Jonathan Demme works:

Sun City – Artists United Against Apartheid

The Demme video here and here
The pop-up video here
Just the music here

Streets of Philadelphia – Bruce Springsteen

Jonathan Demme video here and here

Talking Heads: Stop Making Sense

Trailer of Demme film here and here

In The Still Of The Night – the Neville Brothers

Red Hot and Blue (TV Movie) segment directed by Demme here

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