Musician Nils Lofgren is turning 70

E Street Band and Crazy Horse

Nils LofgrenNils Lofgren is quite possibly a musician you’ve never of, even though he’s in the Rock and Hall of Fame. He’s the epitome of the working musician.

“Along with his work as a solo artist, he has been a member of Bruce Springsteen’s E Street Band since 1984, a member of Crazy Horse, and founder/frontman of the band Grin.”

He appears on a number of albums that I own. With Neil Young, that would be After the Gold Rush (1970), Tonight’s the Night (1975), Trans (1982), and Unplugged (February 1993). For Bruce, that would include Live/1975-85 (1986), Tunnel of Love (1987), The Rising (2002), Magic (2007), Working on a Dream (2009), Wrecking Ball (2012), and High Hopes (2014).

But he never became a “star.” He was a two-time member of Ringo Starr’s All-Starr Band. “In December 2018 PBS NewsHour aired a 10-minute career retrospective Nils Lofgren: 50 Years of ‘just being a guy in the band.’”

Solo

After his group Grin “failed to hit the big time, and were released by their record company,” he recorded some solo albums. I have exactly one of them.

His eponymous first solo album “was critically praised at the time of its release, most notably in a 1975 Rolling Stone review by Jon Landau. The 1983 Rolling Stone Record Guide said it was a ‘tour de force of unquenchable vitality and disarming subtlety.’

“In 2007, nearly 32 years after the release of Nils Lofgren, the album was again praised by Rolling Stone in the ‘Fricke’s Picks’ column, where David Fricke said it was one of 1975’s best albums. The album was on the Billboard 200 chart for nine weeks and peaked at number 141 on May 10, 1975.” #141.

When I was working at FantaCo, running the mail order, some guy at Rykodisc would send me free music. I believe that this album was one of them, although it was re-released in 1990, according to the Wikipedia article, and I left FantaCo in 1988.

Cry Tough (1976) got to #32, I Came To Dance (1977) to #36, Night after Night (1977 live double albums) to #44.

“With mainstream success continuing to elude Lofgren, A and M brought in Bob Ezrin in 1979, to oversee Nils. Ezrin was known for his successes with Alice Cooper, Pink Floyd, Lou Reed, and Kiss. Lofgren: ‘The label said they wanted to bring in co-writers, and I said that I didn’t do that. Ezrin said, ‘What about Lou Reed?’ And I said, ‘Well, yeah, okay. That would be cool.'” The album reached #54, and he never had another album crack the Top 100 except Night Fades Away (#99 in 1981).

Commercial success isn’t everything

In 2014, he as part of the E Street Band was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. “Known for backing Bruce Springsteen in his storied performances, the E Street Band is a gang of musicians bursting with skill, soul, and endurance.”

The Springsteen page notes. “In 1984, following the departure of Steven Van Zandt, Lofgren joined the E Street Band just prior to the launch of the enormous, globetrotting Born in the U.S.A. tour. Throughout the 156-date monster Lofgren became known not only for his scorching guitar work but his gift for stage-worthy acrobatics and theatrics — which makes sense, as in high school Lofgren had been a competitive gymnast.

“Lofgren kept up both roles for the Tunnel of Love Express tour in 1988… And when the E Street Band reconvened in 1999, Springsteen diplomatically answered the question of which guitarist would be brought back into the fold by including both Van Zandt and Lofgren.”

Check out his website. Also this article: Nils Lofgren talks ‘Bonus Tracks,’ Neil Young, Keith Richards and Rolling Stones near miss.” And this one: Nils Lofgren On Playing With Bruce Springsteen And Neil Young, 52 Years On The Road And More.

Songs

When You Dance, I Can Really Love – Neil Young
Back It Up 
If I Say It, It’s So 
Keith, Don’t Go (Ode to the Glimmer Twin)
Valentine – Nils Lofgren & Bruce Springsteen

You should go to Youtube and search Nils Lofgren Bruce Springsteen or Nils Lofgren Neil Young. Oodles of good stuff.

Nils Lofgren turns 70 on June 21.

Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductees for 2021

Billy Preston, Kraftwerk, Todd Rundgren, LL Cool J, finally

Here are two possibly contradictory things. I know that who gets, or doesn’t get, into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame doesn’t equate with their talent, commercial success, or “worthiness.” And, for the most part, I am really quite happy who got in this season. Here was my wish list. Maybe next year for Chaka Khan and Devo.

“The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame reveals its 2021 Inductees, celebrating the most diverse list of Inductees in the history of the organization.”

Performer Category

go gosTina Turner – for a time, she and Fela Kuti were vying for the top spot on the fan ballot. In the end, Tina won going away. I didn’t vote for her because she was already in, with Ike Turner and I chose to vote for those who weren’t in at all. But I’m not complaining, as I have two of her solo albums.
The Best 

Carole King – she ended up sixth on the five performer ballot. I didn’t vote for her either, as she was in as a songwriter with Gerry Goffin. But no complaints here, even though Tapestry is the only album of hers I own.
Jazzman 

The Go-Go’s – came in third in the fan voting. I voted for them and saw them perform 30 years ago in Albany. 
We Got The Beat 

JAY-Z – near the bottom of the fan vote, but an understandable pick.
Song Cry 

Foo Fighters – in the top five of the fan vote. I didn’t vote for them, primarily because Dave Grohl was already in the Rock Hall with Nirvana. But I like Grohl. He’s been Touring in a Van, Interviewing Rock Stars and; Performing with His Daughter. 
Everlong 

Todd Rundgren – YES! His third time on the ballot is the charm. He’s been my #1 or #2 pick each year. Nazz, Utopia, solo work, plus producing.
Appropriately, Just One Victory 

Early Influence Award

Kraftwerk – it was on the ballot about a dozen times. Not this year, but they got in anyway, and that’s great.
list from J. Eric Smith.

Charley Patton  – Wikipedia says (April 1891 (probable) – April 28, 1934) he was an American Delta blues musician. Considered by many to be the ‘Father of the Delta Blues’, he created an enduring body of American music and inspired most Delta blues musicians.
Spoonful Blues 

Gil Scott-Heron – an inspired choice. In case you don’t know, “his music… influenced and foreshadowed later African-American music genres such as hip hop and neo-soul.”
We Almost Lost Detroit 

Musical Excellence Award

This is an odd category. It used to be the “sidemen” award for folks such as Motown’s James Jamerson or Hal Blaine of the Wrecking Crew. But, under the new title, it has included Ringo Starr.

LL Cool J – I’ve been pushing for him for years, and I voted for him this year, but he was in the bottom two of the popular vote.
I Need Love 

Billy Preston – MY FAVORITE CHOICE. Nearly a decade ago, I made the case why he should be included. 
My Sweet Lord (live)

Randy Rhoads – I must admit, I know the name, but not the body of work from Quiet Riot and Ozzy Osborne
Solos 

Ahmet Ertegun Award

Clarence Avant – read the Wikipedia article about the Black Godfather, who made black music more visible.

Yeah, there are more musicians to get in. But I must make my annual appeal for Estelle Axton in this category.

2021 Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Nominees

satisfaction

Todd Rundgren Gtr Player 1977On February 10, I received an email: “Hello rock and roll fans! We’re excited to announce this year’s Nominees for induction into the 2021 Rock and Roll Hall of Fame:

Mary J. Blige, Kate Bush, Devo, Foo Fighters, The Go-Go’s, Iron Maiden, JAY-Z, Chaka Khan, Carole King, Fela Kuti, LL Cool J, New York Dolls, Rage Against the Machine, Todd Rundgren, Tina Turner, Dionne Warwick.

“The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame offers fans the opportunity to participate in the Induction selection process with the Fan Vote. Through April 30, fans can vote every day at rockhall.com, or at the Museum in Cleveland. The top five artists, as selected by the public, will comprise a ‘fans’ ballot’ that will be tallied along with the other ballots to select the 2021 Inductees.

For the past three years, I’ve had this no-doubter.

#TODD RUNDGREN
This is the third year in a row he’s been nominated. Two years ago, I wrote: “I have his albums with the Nazz, Utopia and a number of his solo albums. He’s also produced a chunk of notable albums for others… He’s a wizard, a true star.”
I Saw the Light  

“To be eligible for nomination, an individual artist or band must have released its first commercial recording at least 25 years prior to the year of nomination. Seven out of 16 of the Nominees are on the ballot for the first time, including Foo Fighters, The Go-Go’s, Iron Maiden, JAY-Z, Mary J. Blige, Fela Kuti, and Dionne Warwick.”

They got the beat

My next choice: #The GO-GO’S:
They’ve had a resurgence of sorts with a 2020 documentary about “the first all-women group to write their own songs, play their own instruments, and snag a #1 hit.” I’ll admit my bias since I saw them at J.B. Scott’s in Albany back in 1981. They played the entire first album and a non-album B-side.
Our Lips Are Sealed 

I don’t know Iron Maiden’s music very well. But the other first-timers on the list I could make a case for.

Dionne Warwick has no chance with the fans. She does not rock, and while neither did her young cousin Whitney Houston, who has been inducted, Whitney wasn’t doing Bacharach and David. I’m fond of Dionne, and maybe I’ll vote for her down the road.

On the other hand, I was shocked by the votes for the late Fela Kuti, who was leading the pack early. I didn’t think the originator of Afrobeat was that well-known, certainly not in the US. I don’t have any of his albums as such, but I do have Red Hot + Riot, which features his music. If things get close, I might switch to him.

#CHAKA KHAN:
“Chaka Khan was previously nominated both solo and with the band Rufus.”
Frankly, I’m not feeling Rufus for the Hall. But Chaka’s body of work, absolutely. This is her 7th nomination either solo or in the group.
I Feel for You 

“If elected, Carole King and Tina Turner will become the second and third female artists inducted twice, following Stevie Nicks’ 2019 election. If Foo Fighters are inducted, Dave Grohl will also become a twice-inducted performer.” And, I suppose, because there are so many deserving nominees, I won’t be voting for any of these.

Uncontrollable urge

#DEVO
Wikipedia says “their music… mingling kitsch science fiction themes, deadpan surrealist humor, and mordantly satirical social commentary. Who knew how prescient they would be?
Whip It 

Kate Bush, Rage Against the Machine, and especially The New York Dolls would be on my ballot if I had more picks. Mary J. Blige and Jay Z, as first-timers, will get nominated again, I’m sure.

#LL COOL J; Eligible year: 2009
This is his sixth nomination, previously considered in 2010, 2011, 2014, 2018, and 2019. His historic import, I suspect, has been buried a bit by his acting success.
I’m Bad 

You can vote every day, presumably. An “overwhelming” fan response crashed the Fan Vote early the first morning but was fixed in short order.

Little Richard, Originator. Good Golly!

Richard Wayne Penniman

Little RichardCuriously, just a couple weeks ago, before it was announced that Little Richard had died of bone cancer, I was communicating with a fellow blogger. My basic point was that I had a great disdain for Pat Boone. Specifically how Boone covered some of Richard’s hits in a most uninspired way. Little Richard spoke about this here.

Another blogger friend and I were discussing the value of the rhythm and blues charts. Certain music did not get as much play on the pop stations, which dominated the marketplace. This is why I usually designate both charts, and also the country charts when discussing music.

I checked out some JEOPARDY! clues over the years. Can you come up with the questions? Solutions below.
’50s FILM FACTS $400: Little Richard sang the title tune for this blonde bombshell’s 1956 comedy “The Girl Can’t Help It”
POP MUSIC $100: Little Richard has a street named for him in Macon in this state
COUNTRY SINGERS $300: When Mary Chapin Carpenter sang “Shut Up And” do this to “me” on 1994’s CMA Awards show, Little Richard complied
CELEBRITY ASTROLOGY $100: Little Richard & Rich Little were both born under this sign of the archer
WE BAND OF BROTHERS $800: Little Richard inducted this R&B vocal trio of brothers into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame

J fame

Little Richard, who was in the inaugural class in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1986, taught later music legends everything from soul to sex.

He was the question to quite a few J answers:

PREACHERS $400: Taking Sputnik passing overhead as a sign from heaven to give up rock ‘n’ roll, he joined the ministry
THE SEVENTH-DAY ADVENTISTS $400: He left rock ‘n’ roll in 1957 to be ordained a Seventh-Day Adventist minister: “Womp-bomp-a-loom-op-a-womp-bomp-bomp! Tutti frutti, all rooty! Tutti frutti, all rooty!”

CELEBRITY JEOPARDY! $100: I’m the architect of rock & roll & the originator–Good golly, Miss Molly!
SELF-PROMOTION $800: This musician seen here calls himself “The Originator”
WAYNE MAN $600: Good golly, his real name is Richard Wayne Penniman
ROLLING STONE’S 50 GREATEST ARTISTS $400: Good golly! The only artist to write his own tribute was this one, No. 8, whose first hit came in 1956
POP QUIZ $1600: This “diminutive” musician has had Top 40 hits about girls named Lucille, Sally, Molly & Jenny

SINGERS NAME’S THE SAME $100: Early rockers Anthony, Richard & Eva
LET’S GET SMALL $400: Dorrit, Engine that Could, rock & roll’s Richard

And there were several clues that referenced one particular song, as we’ve already seen:
MUSICAL RHYME TIME $100: Completes the title of Little Richard’s 1958 song “Good Golly…”

Listen

Tutti-Fruitti – #2 for five weeks RB, #17 pop in 1956 (Boone got to #12)
Long Tall Sally -#1 for eight weeks RB, #6 pop in 1956 (Boone only got to #8). Covered by The Beatles.
Slippin’ and Slidin’ – #2 for two weeks RB, #33 pop in 1956
Rip It Up – #1 for two weeks RB, #17 pop in 1956/
Ready Teddy – #8 RB, #44 pop in 1956
Heeby-Jeebies – #7 RB in 1956/
She’s Got It – #9 RB in 1956

The Girl Can’t Help It – #7 RB, #49 pop in 1957
Lucille -#1 for two weeks RB, #21 pop in 1957/
Send Me Some Lovin’ – #3 for two weeks RB, #54 pop in 1957
Jenny Jenny – #2 for two weeks RB, #10 pop in 1957/
Miss Ann – #6 RB, #56 pop in 1957
Keep A Knockin’ – #2 RB, #8 pop in 1957
Good Golly, Miss Molly – #4 RB, #10 pop in 1958

Rock Island Line (with FISHBONE), 1988, from FOLKWAYS – A VISION SHARED, A Tribute to Woody Guthrie & Leadbelly. A Leadbelly song.
I Feel Pretty, 1996, from The Songs of West Side Story

Little Richard tipped Ava DuVernay $100 a week when she was a waitress.

Questions: Jayne Mansfield; Georgia; Kiss Me; Sagittarius; the Isley Brothers

2020 Rock Hall of Fame noms

If I have a bias…

Doobie Brothers
Doobie Brothers
They are doing something different for the fan balloting with the 2020 Rock and Roll Hall of Fame nominations. You can vote every day via Google until January 10, 2020 for five nominees, which, collectively, will be considered in the process.

My picks tend to be partly based on how long it’s been since they were first nominated, how many times they’ve been nominated before, their musical significance, and, frankly, whether I like them.

My Sure Things

#TODD RUNDGREN – Eligible year: 1995
Number of nominations: 2; Nominated in 2019, 2020
One of My Sure Things LAST year. I wrote: “I have his albums with the Nazz, Utopia and a number of his solo albums. He’s also produced a chunk of notable albums for others. It’s SHOCKING that he was never nominated before. He’s a wizard, a true star.”
Something to Fall Back On

#THE DOOBIE BROTHERS -Eligible year: 1996
Number of nominations: 1; Nominated in 2020
The Doobies was one of my college-era bands. And I was impressed when they reinvented themselves with Michael McDonald on many lead vocals. I noted that only Walter Becker and Donald Fagan are in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame as Steely Dan. The group had initially included Skunk Baxter. On later albums, McDonald provided many vocals.
Members: Jeff ‘Skunk’ Baxter, John Hartman, Michael Hossack, Tom Johnston, Keith Knudsen, Michael McDonald, John McFee, Tiran Porter, Patrick Simmons
What A Fool Believes

I voted for them because I like them

#DEPECHE MODE – Eligible year: 2006
Number of nominations: 3; Nominated in 2017, 2018, 2020
Members: Vince Clarke, Andy Fletcher, Dave Gahan, Martin Gore, Alan Wilder
Three noms in four years. Put ’em in!
People are People

#PAT BENATAR – Eligible year: 2004
Number of nominations: 1; Nominated in 2020
Members: Pat Benatar, Neil Giraldo
If I have a bias, it’s probably in favor of women in rock.
Heartbreaker

The ones who appear influential

WHITNEY HOUSTON – Eligible year: 2009
Number of nominations: 1; Nominated in 2020
Lots of complaints in my circle that she’s not “rock”. Whatever. One of the greatest voices in pop music.
How Will I Know

KRAFTWERK; Eligible year: 1995
Number of nominations: 6; Nominated in 2003, 2013, 2015, 2017, 2019, 2020
Members: Karl Bartos, Wolfgang Flür, Ralf Hütter, Florian Schneider
“KRAFTWERK IS THE FOUNDATION UPON WHICH ALL SYNTHESIZER-BASED ROCK AND ELECTRONIC DANCE MUSIC IS BUILT.”
Showroom Dummies

NINE INCH NAILS; Eligible year: 2014
Number of nominations: 3; Nominated in 2015, 2016, 2020
Members: Trent Reznor
Hurt

THE NOTORIOUS B.I.G.; Eligible year: 2019
Number of nominations: 1; Nominated in 2020
Members: Christopher Wallace/BIGGIE SMALLS
Hypnotize

SOUNDGARDEN; Eligible year: 2011
Number of nominations: 1; Nominated in 2020
Members: Matt Cameron, Chris Cornell, Ben Shepherd, Kim Thayil, Hiro Yamamoto
I actually have a few cuts of the group and Cornell solo cuts, and I was sad when he died.
Rusty Cage

DAVE MATTHEWS BAND; Eligible year: 2018
Number of nominations: 1; Nominated in 2020
Members: Carter Beauford, Jeff Coffin, Stefan Lessard, Dave Matthews, Leroi Moore, Tim Reynolds, Rashawn Ross, Boyd Tinsley
They’ve played around here practically every year. I’ve never seen them.
What Would You Say

JUDAS PRIEST; Eligible year: 1999
Number of nominations: 2; Nominated in 2018, 2020
Members: Les Binks, K. K. Downing, Rob Halford, Ian Hill, Dave Holland, Glenn Tipton, Scott Travis
Hell Bent for Leather

MOTÖRHEAD; Eligible year: 2002
Number of nominations: 1; Nominated in 2020
Members: ‘Fast’ Eddie Carke, Ian ‘Lemmy’ Kilmister, Phil ‘Philthy Animal’ Taylor
Not my cuppa.
Eat the Rich

I like them but I don’t know if they should be in there

MC5 Eligible year: 1991
Number of nominations: 6; Nominated in 2003, 2017, 2018, 2019, 2020
Sixth nomination! Yet I can’t quite pick the Detroit group.
Members: Michael Davis, Wayne Kramer, Fred ‘Sonic’ Smith, Dennis Thompson, Rob Tyner
Tonight

RUFUS FEATURING CHAKA KHAN; Eligible year: 1999
Number of nominations: 4; Nominated in 2012, 2018, 2019, 2020
Members: Dennis Belfield, Al Ciner, Andre Fischer, Chaka Khan, Tony Maiden, Nate Morgan, Kevin Murphy, Ron Stockert, Bobby Watson
I picked them a couple of years ago, but it was really for her. On the fence about the group.
Dance Wit Me

T. REX; Eligible year: 1993
Number of nominations: 1; Nominated in 2020
Members: Marc Bolan, Steve Currie, Mickey Finn, Bill Legend
“The musical herald that ushered in the birth of Glam Rock.”
Jeepster

THIN LIZZY; Eligible year: 1996
Number of nominations: 1; Nominated in 2020
Members: Eric Bell, Brian Downey, Scott Gorham, Phil Lynott, Brian Robertson
As I read their bio, they’re more impressive than I had remembered
Whiskey in the Jar

I vote for the first four. My fifth tends to float among Houston, Kraftwerk, and that last grouping. Who are YOU voting for?

Here is my annual pitch for Estelle Axton, the AX of STAX Records. Her brother, Jim Stewart, has been in nearly two decades.