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The Grateful Dead - Ultimate Classic Rock! Tags: greatful dead ultimate rock classic word life production new quality entertainment

The Grateful Dead were the most important band of the psychedelic era and among the most groundbreaking acts in rock and roll history. They broke all the rules while slowly and steadily building a career that carried them from the ballrooms of San Francisco in the Sixties to arenas and stadiums all over the country in the decades that followed. A leaderless democracy, they were fronted by guitarist Jerry Garcia, whose improvisational tangents made him a pied piper to the largest and most devoted cult following in popular music: a massive network of fans known as “Deadheads.” The Dead and their followers did much to keep the spirit of the Sixties alive in modern times. 

The Grateful Dead and their peers on the San Francisco scene – notably Jefferson Airplane, Quicksilver Messenger Service, Big Brother and the Holding Company, and Country Joe and the Fish – raised the consciousness of the rock audience, leading them to an enhanced vision of music in which albums were more important than singles and concerts became marathon exercises in risk-taking.

Heavily steeped in Americana, the group had its roots in blues and bluegrass. From the jazz world, the Grateful Dead leaned to approach music from an improvisational perspective. From the culture of psychedelia – specifically Ken Kesey’s Acid Tests, of which they were a part - the Dead became aware of the infinite possibilities for expression when imagination was given free reign. Led by Garcia’s guitar, the Dead would delve into blues, folk, jazz R&B and avant-garde realms for hours on end. The group’s signature composition was “Dark Star,” which served as a foundation for their most extended and experimental jamming. They performed this epic more than 200 times and never the same way twice, with Garcia’s modal guitar spearheading their explorations into uncharted territory.

“They’ll follow me down any dark alley,” Garcia noted in 1987. “Sometimes there’s light at the end of the tunnel, and sometimes there’s a dark hole. The point is, you don’t get adventure in music unless you’re willing to take chances.” 

The Dead’s career can be viewed in several stages. During the latter half of the Sixties, they were a psychedelic rock band whose music and lifestyle were synonymous with the San Francisco scene. In the Seventies, they moved toward a rootsier sound and style of songwriting while maintaining the lengthy jamming tangents that remained high points of their concerts. In the Eighties, they became a touring juggernaut, attracting a nomadic following of Deadheads that followed them from show to show. An anomalous commercial peak came in 1987 when “Touch of Grey” became a Top 10 hit, further accelerating the influx of younger fans to the band’s increasingly prosperous touring scene. They would appear on Forbes’ list of top-grossing entertainers and for a few years in the early Nineties were the highest-grossing concert attraction in the U.S. The 1995 death of Jerry Garcia abruptly put an end to the Grateful Dead, though various members subsequently regrouped as the Other Ones, The Dead and Furthur.

The roots of the Grateful Dead hark back to the early Sixties and a small community of literature and music-minded proto-hippies in Palo Alto, California, to which Garcia gravitated. It was in this milieu that he befriended Robert Hunter, who would become his lifelong songwriting partner, and Ron McKernan (a.k.a. “Pigpen”), a serious disciple of blues and soul who played keyboards and harmonica. A budding young guitarist named Bob Weir fell in with Garcia’s crew, which gathered at Dana Morgan’s Music Store in Palo Alto (where Garcia gave guitar lessons).

In 1964 Garcia, Weir and McKernan formed Mother McCree's Uptown Jug Champions, a string band that played blues, folk and good-time music. Much of the Grateful Dead’s early repertoire of borrowed tunes, including “Good Morning Little School Girl” and “Viola Lee Blues,” was learned during this time. It was Pigpen’s suggestion - inspired by a newly popular band from England, the Rolling Stones – that they plug in and amplify their sound. They recruited a rhythm section of drummer Bill Kreutzmann (who Garcia knew from the music store, where both taught) and Phil Lesh, a musical prodigy who’d studied jazz, classical and the avant-garde. Though he’d never played bass before, Lesh jumped at the chance to join the band and mastered the instrument quickly. “I knew something great was happening, something bigger than everybody,” he recalled.

By May 1965, the classic five-man lineup of Garcia, Weir, Lesh, McKernan and Kreutzmann was in place. Renaming themselves the Warlocks, they took a decidedly more electric approach. Half a year later, after realizing there was another group called the Warlocks, they became the Grateful Dead. The name suggested itself when Garcia opened up a dictionary and his eyes fell upon those words. “It was a truly weird moment,” he later noted. Implicit in that name was the promise of adventure and risk – qualities that would become hallmarks of the Grateful Dead’s approach to music.

The Dead provided a kind of cultural glue, serving to link the literary and philosophical leanings of Fifties beatniks with the musical awakening of the Sixties counterculture. Both movements flourished in the enlightened environs of the Bay Area. The Grateful Dead were retained to provide musical settings for novelist Ken Kesey’s legendary Acid Tests. From there, they began honing their concert alchemy at San Francisco’s venues, notably the Fillmore and the Avalon Ballroom. They were signed to Warner Bros. Records by Joe Smith, the company’s president, after he caught a show at the Avalon in August 1966.

During their lifespan, the Grateful Dead ranged between five and seven members. In 1967, they expanded to a sextet with the addition of a second drummer, Mickey Hart. In 1968, they added keyboardist Tom Constanten, expanding to a septet. In terms of personnel, the keyboard role was always the band’s most unstable. Somewhat eerily, four of the Grateful Dead’s keyboardists – Ron “Pigpen” McKernan, Keith Godchaux, Brent Mydland and Vince Welnick – died prematurely.

The Grateful Dead fused rock and roll energy with the psychedelic experience to fashion an endlessly fascinating labyrinth of sound. Their self-titled first album, recorded in three days, sprinted through their blues and bluegrass repertoire with speed and energy. Anthem of the Sun (1968) was their transcendently psychedelic, quasi-symphonic magnum opus. Aoxomomoxoa was another highly experimental piece of work. As good as these early albums were, they could not match the Grateful Dead when they were at their best in concert, and the group would frequently turn to live albums as the truest representation of their experience. (A popular bumpersticker read: "There Is Nothing Like a Grateful Dead Concert.")

Live/Dead, compiled from shows performed in San Francisco between January 26 and March 2, 1969, remains a career highlight. It documented the fairly regimented yet highly improvisational program they performed at that time. The lineup included “Dark Star” (the ultimate Grateful Dead performance piece), “St. Stephen” and “The Eleven” (performed in 11/4 time). After exploring the outer reaches of psychedelic consciousness, the Dead would return to earth with an energetic rendition of Bobby “Blue” Bland’s “Turn On Your Lovelight” (a showcase for Pigpen’s soulful vocals), followed by the bluesy, mournful “Death Don’t Have No Mercy” (from the repertoire of Rev. Gary Davis) and a gospel-style finale (“And We Bid You Goodnight”). The programming mirrored the stages of an acid trip – ascendancy, peaking and return to reality – and it’s been noted that this logic became embedded in the two-set structure of the Grateful Dead’s concerts for the duration of their career. As drummer Mickey Hart famously noted, “We’re in the transportation business – we move minds.”

In the wake of the Sixties and the slow demise of the San Francisco scene, the Grateful Dead took a turn toward a more acoustic, back-to-basics style on Workingman’s Dead and American Beauty (both from 1970). Both were more thoughtful, folk-oriented albums that revealed the band members’ improved songwriting ability and sage-like overview of America’s past, present and future. Much of the material was written by Garcia and lyricist Robert Hunter, and they included some of their best-loved songs: “Truckin’,” “Uncle John’s Band,” “Casey Jones” and “Sugar Magnolia.” These albums were influenced by the often acoustic, harmony-laden music of Crosby, Stills and Nash (who taught the Dead how to harmonize) and the Band (whose highly influential first two albums had a rustic, rootsy tone).

The Dead followed those studio albums with the consecutive live releases Grateful Dead (a.k.a. “Skull and Roses") and Europe ’72. At this point they felt so strongly that their work was best captured in concert that a number of new songs were unveiled on live rather than studio recordings. These included such staples as Grateful Dead’s “Wharf Rat” and “Bertha” and Europe ’72’s “Jack Straw,” “He’s Gone” and “Tennessee Jed.” Both albums also contained a raft of covers that revealed the Dead’s growing allegiance to roots music. There were songs by country singers Marty Robbins (“El Paso”), Merle Haggard (“Mama Tried”) and Hank Williams (“You Win Again”), as well as the Wild West tall tale “Me and My Uncle,” penned by John Phillips (of the Mamas and the Papas).

Various group members also launched solo albums during this time frame. Jerry Garcia was first with his self-titled solo album Garcia, which appeared in January 1972. Bob Weir’s Ace, released in June 1972, was a Grateful Dead album in all but name, as Weir’s bandmates contributed liberally to what was the most Dead-like of all their solo projects.

In 1973, the group released Wake of the Flood, their first studio album in three years and first release following the expiration of their contract with Warner Bros. It was issued on the group’s own Grateful Dead Records. They also created an affiliated label, Round Records, for solo projects. Both were distributed by United Artists. In March 1974, the group debuted a massive, state-of-the-art sound system, dubbed the Wall of Sound. It was both a sonic breakthrough and practical albatross whose setup time and cost of transport made it almost prohibitively expensive. The group released From the Mars Hotel in June, but that October – exhausted from constant touring and rethinking the costly boondoggle of their sound system – they went on an extended hiatus, exiting with five nights of “farewell” shows at San Francisco’s Winterland. Among other things, Jerry Garcia spent the next two years editing The Grateful Dead Movie, a 90-minute concert documentary assembled from the Winterland stand.

The group performed only four times in 1975, though they did release one of their more inspired studio albums, Blues for Allah, that year. The Grateful Dead returned to the touring life in June 1976. Deadheads consider 1977 to be the band’s standout year as a live band. Having folded their own labels, the Dead signed to Clive Davis’ Arista Records toward the end of 1976. Over the next several years, they issued the studio albums Terrapin Station (1977), Shakedown Street (1978) and Go to Heaven (1980). Terrapin Station contained the seven-part sidelong epic “Terrapin Station.” Shakedown Street was notable for its choice of producer: Lowell George, guitarist and frontman for Little Feat. Following Go to Heaven, there would not be another album of new music from the Grateful Dead for seven years.

Over the latter half of their career, Garcia was periodically beset with substance-abuse problems, a state of affairs that came to a head with his arrest on drug possession charges in 1985, and his collapse into a diabetic coma in 1986. His recovery included having to relearn how to play the guitar. His health improved in the wake of those crises, and a revitalized Grateful Dead entered a period of heightened activity that included the 1987 album In the Dark and the Top 10 single ("Touch of Grey"). The group issued its final studio album, Built to Last, in 1989.

Drugs continued to haunt the Grateful Dead, who lost keyboardist Brent Mydland to a fatal overdose in 1990. Mydland was succeeded, temporarily, by Bruce Hornsby and replaced by Vince Welnick. Garcia died on August 9, 1995, at a drug-treatment facility in Forest Knolls, California. The Grateful Dead’s final concert had taken place a month earlier, at Chicago’s Soldier Field on July 9, 1995.

The Dead could not survive the loss of Garcia, but the music lives on. Three dozen vintage concerts were released as part of the “Dick’s Picks” series, named for Dick Latvala, the group’s longtime tape archivist. (Latvala, who died in 1999, was succeeded in that role by David Lemieux.) Various other concerts have seen commercial release, including performances at Fillmore East, Fillmore West, across Europe and at the base of the Egyptian pyramids. Between 1991 and 2007, 53 live Grateful Dead concerts were released. Inspired by the Dead’s example, other artists – from Neil Young and Bob Dylan to Pearl Jam and Phish – have followed suit to varying degrees, opening their own concert vaults with fan-oriented releases.

Individually, the surviving members have continued to make music. Mickey Hart has pursued a highly successful career as a rhythmatist and ethnomusicologist, recording and compiling numerous volumes of world music. Bob Weir formed Ratdog. Phil Lesh toured with a revolving cast of musicians known as Phil and Friends. Bill Kreutzmann’s other projects have included BK3 and 7 Walkers.

Beginning in 1996, several “Furthur Festivals” – involving Dead-related ensembles and kindred spirits – kept the spirit alive. Weir, Lesh, Hart and Bruce Hornsby toured as the Other Ones in 1998. They were joined by Bill Kreutzmann for tours in 2000 and 2002. Calling themselves The Dead, the four surviving members – Weir, Lesh, Hart and Bill Kreutzmann – again regrouped with supporting musicians in 2003, 2004 and 2009. Lesh and Weir have soldiered on with the group Furthur.

Ultimately, the Grateful Dead’s triumph was to create an alternative form of music and alternatives to music-business conventions that succeeded on their own uncompromising terms. Much about the Grateful Dead was improvised or left to chance. Theirs was a laissez-faire anarchy that assumed things would work out as the cosmos intended. This faith in a universal order, gleaned from the start at Kesey’s Acid Tests, freed them to pursue music without the usual constraints. The Grateful Dead illuminated the world with their music, transforming culture and consciousness as well. In so doing, they became an improbably durable and influential institution. As Phil Lesh said at the Grateful Dead’s induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1994: "Sometimes you don't merely have to endure. You can prevail."

Inductees: Tom Constanten (keyboards; born March 19, 1944), Jerry Garcia (guitar, vocals; born August 1, 1942, died August 9, 1995), Donna Godchaux (vocals; born August 22, 1945), Keith Godchaux (keyboards; born July 14, 1948, died July 21, 1980), Mickey Hart (drums, percussion; born September 11, 1943), Robert Hunter (lyricist; born June 23, 1941), Bill Kreutzmann (drums; born April 7, 1946), Phil Lesh (bass, vocals; born March 15, 1940), Ron “Pigpen” McKernan (keyboards, harmonica, vocals; born September 8, 1945, died March 8, 1973), Brent Mydland (keyboards, vocals; born October 21, 1952, died July 26, 1990), Bob Weir (guitar, vocals; born October 16, 1947), Vince Welnick (keyboards; born February 22, 1951, died June 2, 2006).

Source: Rock and Roll Hall of Fame- http://rockhall.com/inductees/the-grateful-dead/

See more at: http://rockhall.com/inductees/the-grateful-dead/bio/#sthash.lARNXF1w.dpuf


Ultimate Classic Rock - Siouxsie Sioux Tags: ultimate classic rock siouxsie sioux word life production featured blog new quality entertainment

Siouxsie Sioux is best known as the lead singer of the group Siouxsie and the Banshees, whose most popular singles include "Peek-A-Boo," "Cities in Dust," "The Killing Jar" and "Kiss Them For Me."

Siouxsie Sioux was born May 27, 1957 in Bromley, England. In the mid-1970s, Sioux became part of a group of young punk rockers known as The Bromley Contingent—rabid Sex Pistols fans known for their provocative clothing and public antics. She went on to become the lead singer of Siouxsie and the Banshees, whose most popular singles include "Peek-A-Boo," "Cities in Dust," "The Killing Jar," "Fear (of the Unknown)" and "Kiss Them For Me," the band's only song to crack the U.S. Top 40. After the Banshees split in the mid-1990s. Sioux began collaborating with other musicians, and then worked as a solo artist.

Siouxsie Sioux was born as Susan Janet Ballion on May 27, 1957 in Bromley, Kent, England. Her father was a successful scientist, but was also an alcoholic, and died of cirrhosis of the liver when Sioux was only 14 years old. As a result, Sioux was raised primarily by her mother, a secretary. Sioux recalled that her mother "went out to work at a time when I didn't know anyone else's mum who wasn't at home. I had a great teacher there, and I've had to remember that." Sioux added, "she was the odd-job man, too, changing fuses, painting, doing the gardening. My dad was there, but not functioning."

As much as she admired her mother, growing up with one working parent meant that young Sioux endured a very lonely childhood. "I was left on my own a lot because my mother had to go out to work and there was no one else at home," she remembered. "From an early age I didn't like people very much ... I used to talk to myself a lot and practice being Bette Davis on the stairs. I'd wear my mother's stilettos and use a white pencil as a cigarette—I remember learning to smoke just like Bette Davis. I must've been a little bit looney when I was young, but I was quite happy being left to my own devices."

Siouxsie and the Banshees

By the time she was 18 years old, in 1975, Sioux had become part of a group of young punk rockers known as The Bromley Contingent—rabid Sex Pistols fans known for their provocative clothing and public antics. In September 1976, Sioux, serving as lead singer and songwriter, formed a band with fellow Bromley Contingent members Steven Severin (bass), Marco Perroni (guitar) and Sid Vicious (drums). Calling themselves Siouxsie and the Banshees, the band made their debut at London's 100 Club soon after, with a performance that consisted entirely of a 20-minute rendition of The Lord's Prayer.

Several months later, on December 1, 1976, Sioux appeared with the Sex Pistols on ITV's Today Show, hosted by Bill Grundy. Sioux's coy flirting with Grundy—and Grundy's lewd response—prompted members of the Sex Pistols to hurl obscenities at him in an infamous exchange that simultaneously marked downfall of Grundy's career and the ascent of Sioux's.

After some reshuffling in 1978, in which Sid Vicious and Marco Perroni left the band to be replaced by Kenny Morris and John McKay, Siouxsie and the Banshees released their debut single, "Hong Kong Garden," which reached No. 7 on the UK singles chart. Later that year, they released their debut album, The Scream, a discordant, exuberant and highly original record, to rave reviews. Following the acclaimed 1979 follow up, Join Hands, the band's lineup once again reshuffled to include the drummer known simply as "Budgie." While Siouxsie and the Banshees cycled through many musicians over the next decades, Sioux, Severin and Budgie remained the band's core nucleus throughout its duration.

Throughout the 1980s and '90s, Siouxsie and the Banshees surprised critics by outliving the shock and energy of their early years to become one of the most enduring punk rock bands of all time. The band's 11 total studio albums include Kaleidoscope (1980), A Kiss in the Dreamhouse (1982), Tinderbox (1986), Superstition (1991) and their final album, The Rapture (1995). Their most popular singles include "Peek-A-Boo," "Cities in Dust," "The Killing Jar," "Fear (of the Unknown)" and "Kiss Them For Me," the band's only song to crack the U.S. Top 40.

Other Projects

Sioux and Budgie created a separate band called The Creatures as a side project in 1981. That year, they released an EP called Wild Things, and in 1983 they released their debut album, Feast, which proved to be an enormous critical and commercial success. After The Creatures' 1989 album Boomerang, Sioux and Budgie set The Creatures aside to work with the Banshees. However, after the band's 1996 breakup, Sioux and Budgie turned back to performing and recording as The Creatures full time. They increased their touring schedule and released an EP, Eraser Cut, in 1998 followed by the full-length album Anima Animus in 1999, featuring the hit songs "2nd Floor," "Say" and "Prettiest Thing." In 2003, The Creatures released their second and final album, Hai!, which featured the single "Godzilla."

Since then, Siouxsie Sioux has continued to tour as a solo artist, performing a mix of Siouxsie and The Banshees and The Creatures songs alongside new material. In 2007, Sioux and Budgie divorced. That same year, she released her first solo album, MantaRay, featuring the songs "Into a Swan" and "Here Comes That Day."

Musical Legacy

One of the most influential singers in the history of punk rock, Sioux stands out for the extraordinary breadth of her career, a rarity among punk rockers, and the consistently outstanding quality of her music. All of her albums, without exception, received rave reviews—no small feat for someone who has recorded as many records as Siouxsie Sioux.

Sioux says that her continued success can be explained by her willingness to evolve to write music that suits the ever-changing state of her life and the world, rather than clinging to the punk angst that defined her early music. "It lost its teeth," Sioux said of punk music. "People forget it was an attitude, a mindset, reacting to what was going on in the world, in music, at that time. You can't take that and place it now: that would just be mimicry ... People doing their own thing—that's punk."

Source: Biography.com .

APA Style Siouxsie Sioux. (2014). The Biography.com website. Retrieved 03:31, Oct 20, 2014, from http://www.biography.com/people/siouxsie-sioux-17178808.

Harvard Style Siouxsie Sioux. [Internet]. 2014. The Biography.com website. Available from: http://www.biography.com/people/siouxsie-sioux-17178808 [Accessed 20 Oct 2014].

MLA Style "Siouxsie Sioux." Bio. A&E Television Networks, 2014. Web. 20 Oct. 2014.

Ultimate Classic Rock - Elton John Tags: ultimate rock classic elton john word life production new qulaity entertainment feature blog

For most of the Seventies, Elton John and lyricist Bernie Taupin were a virtual hit factory, churning out 25 Top Forty singles, 16 Top Ten, and six Number One hits. In the Eighties their fortunes declined only slightly. To date, they have achieved more than four dozen Top Forty hits and become one of the most successful songwriting teams in pop history.

John's rich tenor and gospel-chorded piano, boosted by aggressive string arrangements, established a musical formula, while he reveled in an extravagant public image. At the start of the Nineties John confessed the personal costs of that extravagance—drug abuse, depression, bulimia—and revealed as well his impressive struggles to regain control. Since the late Eighties, he has been deeply involved in the fight against AIDS. And while his critical stature has varied over the years, his melodic gifts have proved undeniable. He was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1994. In 1998, he became Sir Elton, after Queen Elizabeth dubbed him a knight.

As Reginald Dwight, John won a piano scholarship to the Royal Academy of Music at age 11. Six years later he left school for show business. By day, he ran errands for a music publishing company; he divided evenings between a group, Bluesology, and solo gigs at a London hotel bar. Bluesology was then working as a backup band for visiting American soul singers such as Major Lance and Patti LaBelle and the Blue Belles. In 1966, British R&B singer Long John Baldry hired Bluesology as his band (In 1971 John co-produced an album of Baldry's).

Responding to an ad in a music trade weekly, Dwight auditioned for Liberty Records with his hotel repertoire. The scouts liked his performance but not his material. (Liberty wasn't his only audition; he was also rejected by King Crimson and Gentle Giant). Lyricist Bernie Taupin (born May 22, 1950, Sleaford, England) had also replied to the Liberty ad, and one of the scouts gave Dwight a stack of Taupin lyrics. Six months later the two met. By then, Dwight was calling himself Elton John, after John Baldry and Bluesology saxophonist Elton Dean. (Some years later he made Elton Hercules John his legal name; Hercules was a childhood nickname.) John and Taupin took their songs to music publisher Dick James, who hired them as house writers for £10 (about $25) a week, and whose Dick James Music owned all John-Taupin compositions until 1975.

Taupin would write lyrics, sometimes a song an hour, and deliver a bundle to John every few weeks. Without changing a word, and only rarely consulting Taupin, John would fit tunes to the phrases. Arrangements were left to studio producers. For two years they wrote easy-listening tunes for James to peddle to singers; on the side, John recorded current hits for budget labels like Music for Pleasure and Marble Arch.

On the advice of another music publisher, Steve Brown, John and Taupin started writing rockier songs for John to record. The first was the single "I've Been Loving You" (1968), produced by former Bluesology guitarist Caleb Quaye. In 1969, with Quaye, drummer Roger Pope, and bassist Tony Murray, John recorded another single, "Lady Samantha," and an album, Empty Sky. The records didn't sell, and John and Taupin enlisted Gus Dudgeon to produce a followup with Paul Buckmaster as arranger. (Brown continued to advise John until 1976; Dudgeon produced his records through Blue Moves and sporadically in the mid-Eighties.) Elton John established the formula for subsequent albums: gospel-chorded rockers and poignant ballads.

Uni (later MCA) released Elton John (withholding Empty Sky until 1975), and John made his historical American debut at the Troubadour in L.A. in August 1970, backed by ex-Spencer Davis Group drummer Nigel Olsson and bassist Dee Murray. (Murray would play with John off and on until his death in 1992 from a stroke suffered during treatment for skin cancer.) Kicking over his piano bench Jerry Lee Lewis-style and performing handstands on the keyboards, John left the critics raving. "Your Song" (Number 8, 1970) carried the album to the American Top 10. Tumbleweed Connection, with extensive FM airplay, sold even faster and reached Number Five.

By the middle of 1971, two more albums had been released: a live set taped from a WPLJ-FM New York radio broadcast on November 17, 1970, and the soundtrack to the film Friends, written three years before. Despite John's public repudiation of it, Friends went gold. Elton John was the first act since the Beatles to have four albums in the American Top 10 simultaneously. Madman Across the Water (Number 8) came out in October 1971, boasting hits "Levon" (Number 24) and "Tiny Dancer" (Number 41) and before year's end, a Bernie Taupin recitation-and-music album, Taupin, was on the market.

Honky Ch âteau (1972), with Top-Tens "Rocket Man" (Number Six) and "Honkey Cat" (Number Eight), was the first album credited to the Elton John group: John, Olsson, Murray, and guitarist Davey Johnstone. "Crocodile Rock," from 1973's Don't Shoot Me, I'm Only The Piano Player, was his first Number One; "Daniel" and "Goodbye Yellow Brick Road," from the 1973 LP of the same name, reached Number Two.

Then came the tidal wave: "Bennie and the Jets" (Number One), "Don't Let the Sun Go Down on Me" (Number Two), "The @!$%# Is Back" (Number Four), a cover of Lennon-McCartney's "Lucy in the Sky With Diamonds" (Number One), "Philadelphia Freedom" (Number One), "Someone Saved My Lifed Tonight" (Number 4), and "Island Girl" (Number One). Honky Ch âteau was the first of seven Number One albums, the most successful being Goodbye Yellow Brick Road, which held the Number One spot for eight weeks in late 1973, and a 1974 greatest-hits compilation that held fast at Number One for 10 weeks.

In 1973 John formed Rocket, his own MCA-distributed label and signed acts—notably Neil Sedaka and Kiki Dee, with whom he recorded "Don't Go Breaking My Heart" (Number One, 1976)— in which he took personal interest. Instead of releasing his own records on Rocket, he opted for $8 million offered by MCA. When the contract was signed in 1974, MCA reportedly took out a $25-million insurance policy on John's life.

That same year, Elton John joined John Lennon in the studio on Lennon's "Whatever Gets You Thru the Night," then recorded "Lucy in the Sky With Diamonds" with Dr. Winston O'Boogie (Lennon) on guitar. Dr. O'Boogie joined Elton John at Madison Square Garden, Thanksgiving Day 1974, to sing both tunes plus "I Saw Her Standing There." It was Lennon's last appearance on any stage and came out on an EP released after his death.

In the mid-Seventies John's concerts filled arenas and stadiums worldwide. He was the hottest act in rock and roll. And his extravagances, including a $40,000 collection of custom-designed and determinedly ridiculous eyeglasses and an array of equally outrageous stagewear seemed positively charming.

After Captain Fantastic (1975), the first album ever to enter the charts at Number One, John overhauled his band: Johnstone and Ray Cooper were retained, Quaye and Roger Pope removed, and the new bassist was Kenny Passarelli (formerly of Joe Walsh's Barnstorm). James Newton-Howard joined to arrange in the studio and to play keyboards. John introduced the lineup before a crow of 75,000 in London's Wembley Stadium in the summer of 1975, then recorded Rock of the Westies. Also that year, John appeared as the Pinball Wizard in the Ken Russell film of the Who's Tommy. But John's frenetic recording pace had slowed markedly, and he performed less often. A live album, Here and There, had been recorded in 1974. John's biggest hit in 1976 was the Number One Kiki Dee duet. A single from the downbeat Blue Moves (Number Three, 1976), "Sorry Seems to Be the Hardest Word," reached Number Six.

In November 1977, John announced he was retiring from performing. After publishing a book of his poems—The One Who Writes the Words for Elton John— in 1976, Taupin began collaborating with others. John secluded himself in any of his three mansions, appearing publicly only to cheer the Watford Football Club, an English soccer team that he later bought. Some speculated that John's retreat from stardom was prompted by adverse reaction to his 1976 admission in Rolling Stone of his bisexuality.

A Single Man employed a new lyricist, Gary Osborne, but featured no Top 20 singles. In 1979, accompanied by Ray Cooper, John became the first Western pop star to tour the Soviet Union, then mounted a two-man comeback tour of the U.S. in small halls. John returned to the singles chart with "Mama Can't Buy You Love" (Number Nine, 1979), a song from an EP recorded in 1977 with Philadelphia soul producer Thom Bell. A new album, Victim of Love, failed to sustain the rally, and by 1980, John and Taupin reunited to write songs for 21 at 33 and The Fox. (Taupin put out a solo album, He Who Rides the Tiger.) A single, "Little Jeannie," reached Number Three.

An estimated 400,000 fans turned out for a free concert in New York's Central Park in August, later broadcast on HBO. Olsson and Murray were back in the band, and John had just signed a new recording contract. His second Geffen LP—Jump Up! —contained "Empty Garden (Hey Hey Johnny)," his tribute to John Lennon, which he performed at his sold-out Madison Square Garden show in August 1982. He was joined on stage by Yoko Ono and Sean Ono Lennon, Elton John's godchild.

In 1983, with a version of "I Guess That's Why They Call It the Blues" (Number Four), featuring Stevie Wonder on harmonica, Elton had his biggest since 1980—and while he wouldn't match his Seventies success, he would continue to place in the Top Ten throughout the Eighties— "Sad Songs (Say So Much)" (Number Five, 1984), "Nikita" (Number Seven, 1986), an orchestral version of "Candle in the Wind" (Number Six, 1987), and "I Don't Wanna Go On With You Like That" (Number Two, 1988). His highest-charting single was a collaboration with Dionne Warwick, Gladys Knight, and Stevie Wonder on "That's What Friends Are For" (Number One, 1985). Credited to Dionne and Friends, the song raised funds for AIDS research. His albums continued to sell, but of the six released in the latter half of the Eighties, only Reg Strikes Back (Number 16, 1988) places in the Top 20.

The Eighties were years of personal upheaval for John. In 1984, he surprised many by marrying studio engineer Renate Blauel. While the marriage lasted four years, John later maintained that he had realized that he was gay before he married. In 1986 he lost his voice while touring Australia and shortly thereafter underwent throat surgery. John continued recording prolifically, but years of cocaine and alcohol abuse, initiated in earnest around the time of Rock of the Westies' 1975 release, were beginning to take their toll.

In 1988 he performed five sold-out shows at New York's Madison Square Garden, his final concert—his 26th—breaking the Grateful Dead's career record of 25 sold-out Garden appearances. (John still holds the record; he played his 60th show at MSG on his 60th birthday in 2007.) But 1988 also marked the end of an era: 2,000 items of John's memorabilia were auctioned off at Sotheby's in London, netting over $20 million, as John bade symbolic farewell to his excessive, theatrical persona. (Among the items withheld from the auction were the tens of thousands of records John had been carefully collecting and cataloguing through his life.) In later interviews, he deemed 1989 the worst period of his life, comparing his mental and physical deterioration to Elvis Presley's last years.

Around that time, he was deeply affected by the plight of Ryan White, an Indiana teenager with AIDS. Along with Michael Jackson, John befriended and supported the boy and his family until White's death in 1990. Confronted by his then-lover, John checked into a Chicago hospital in 1990 to combat his drug abuse, alcoholism, and bulimia. In recovery, he lost weight and underwent hair replacement, and subsequently took up residence in Atlanta, Georgia.

In 1992, he established the Elton John AIDS Foundation, intending to direct 90 percent of the funds it raised to direct care, 10 percent to AIDS prevention education. He also announced his intention to donate all future royalties from sales of his singles (beginning with "The One") in the U.S. and U.K. to AIDS research. That year, he released the Number Eight album The One, his highest-charting release since 1976's Blue Moves, and John and Taupin signed a music publishing deal with Warner/Chappell Music—an estimated $39-million, 12-year agreement—that would give them the largest cash advance in music publishing history.

In 1992, at the Freddie Mercury Memorial and AIDS Benefit concert at Wembley Stadium, John duetted with Axl Rose on Queen's "Bohemian Rhapsody, " a reconciling gesture, given Rose's previously homophobic reputation. He also released Duets, a collaboration with 15 artists ranging from Tammy Wynette to RuPaul. He was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1994.

John collaborated with Tim Rice on music for the animated film The Lion King. The soundtrack featured "Can You Feel the Love Tonight," an Academy Award-winner for Best Original Song and a Grammy-winner for Best Male Pop Vocal Performance. At the Academy Awards ceremonies, John acknowledge his domestic partner, Canadian filmmaker David Furnish. In 1995 John released Made in England (Number One3, 1995), which featured the hit single "Believe" (Number 13, 1995).

The year 1997 was significant for John personally and professionally. He lost two close friends, designer Gianni Versace and Princess Diana. Upon Diana's death, Bernie Taupin reworked the lyrics of "Candle in the Wind," a song originally written about Marilyn Monroe in 1973. The resulting tribute, "Candle in the Wind 1997," easily became the all-time highest-certified single, with U.S. sales of 11 million in the first month (all proceeds were donated to the Diana, Princess of Wales Memorial Fund). John's accomplishment is particularly stunning when matched against his previous track record. "Candle," his 16th certified single, has outsold all of his other gold and platinum singles combined. The song is not on his 1997 album The Big Picture, which was released shortly after the tribute single.

Also in 1997, vestiges of the flamboyant Elton resurfaced as he threw a 50th birthday party, costumed as Louis XIV, for 500 friends (the outfit cost more than $80,000). In 1999, John had a pacemaker installed to overcome a minor heart problem. Also that year, he collaborated again with Tim Rice, this time on a Broadway musical version of Verdi's opera Aida. The pair also collaborated on a DreamWorks animated feature, The Road to El Dorado.

The 2000s witnessed something of an Elton renaissance. With 2001's Songs From the West Coast he sat down at the piano and made an old-fashion Elton John album, and the result was his best platter since Rock of the Westies. At the 2001 Grammy Awards show, John duetted with Eminem on the controversial rapper's "Stan." Gay-rights activists and organizations criticized John for embracing (literally and figuratively) Eminem, as he had Axl Rose years before, but he and the rapper stayed friends, with the Elton supporting Eminem went through his own drug problems.

Peachtree Road played like a sequel to West Coast, with Elton and Taupin turning in some of their most personal songs ever, as well as ballads like "They Call Her the Cat," about a post-op transsexual woman. Billed as the official followup to Captain Fantastic and the Brown Dirt Cowboy, The Captain and the Kid was an autobiographical concept album about Elton and Taupin's lives since the Seventies, rocking out with red-blooded fervor on hot ones like "Just Like Noah's Ark."

In 2008, John announced that he would tour again with Billy John, as he had several times before dating back to 1994. The tour began in March, 2009, with the pricey tickets moving briskly, and was expected to run for at least two years.

Portions of this biography appeared in The Rolling Stone Encyclopedia of Rock & Roll (Simon & Schuster, 2001). Evan Serpick contributed to this story.

Source: RollingStone


Ultimate Rock Classic - Mick Jagger Tags: ultimate classic rock mick jagger word life production new quality entertainmnet

As the lead singer of the Rolling Stones, Mick Jagger has become a rock legend for his gritty, blues-influenced songs and for his charismatic stage presence.the music world, propelling the band and himself to a status unknown by most performers.

Early Musical Influences

Singer, songwriter, actor and producer Michael Phillip Jagger was born on July 26, 1943, in Dartford, England. As the lead singer of the Rolling Stones, Mick Jagger has become a rock legend for his gritty, blues-influenced songs and for his charismatic stage presence. He has been delighting fans for more than four decades.

The oldest son of a teacher and a homemaker, Jagger was a good student and popular among his classmates. He developed an interest in American blues and R&B music at an early age and got his first guitar at 14. As a teenager, Jagger started collecting blues records from the likes of Muddy Waters and Howlin' Wolf. He and his friend Dick Taylor soon started a band together called Little Boy Blue and the Blue Boys with Jagger as its singer.

In 1960, Jagger was accepted to the London School of Economics. He lived at home and commuted into the city to attend classes. Also working on his band, Jagger soon added a new member, guitarist Keith Richards. The two had known each other growing up in Dartford. Exploring London's emerging blues scene together, Jagger and Richards spent some time at the Ealing Club. There they saw Alexis Korner's Blues Incorporated play and were wowed by guitarist Brian Jones who made guest appearances with the group. After a while, Jagger also appeared as a guest vocalist with Blues Incorporated as well.

Forming the Rolling Stones

Jagger, Richards, and Taylor soon joined up with Jones who wanted to start his own group. Pianist Ian Stewart was also an early member of what would become the Rolling Stones. By 1963, Charlie Watts joined as its drummer and Taylor departed. Stewart, however, stayed on to serve as the band's road manager, as well as to play and record with them. Taylor was replaced by Bill Wyman. Under the direction of their manager Andrew Loog Oldham, the Rolling Stones were marketed as a group of wild and rough rockers. The group's wild style helped land them a deal with Decca Records. Jagger was a key ingredient in the band's growing success, attracting audiences with his stage antics and his sex appeal.

At first, the band mostly recorded cover versions of other people's songs, but Richards and Jagger soon emerged as a powerful songwriting duo-occasionally using the pseudonym "Nanker Phelge" for some of their early work. The Rolling Stones first made the British charts in 1964 with a cover version of Bobby Womack's "It's All Over Now." That same year, the band toured the United States and had their first American hit with "That Girl Belongs to Yesterday." More hits soon followed, including the chart-topping "Satisfaction" and "Paint It Black."

Tragedy Strikes

In 1967, Jagger's personal life made headlines. He and his girlfriend, singer Marianne Faithfull, were among those arrested during a police raid of Keith Richards's country home in England. During their search, police officers found drug paraphernalia and illegal substances. Both Jagger and Richards were tried and convicted for drug-related offenses, but their sentences were dropped on appeal. Two years later, Jagger and Faithfull were arrested for drug possession after authorities raided Jagger's London home.

By the end of the decade, Jagger and the rest of the band were enjoying huge success. Beggars Banquet was released in 1968 and featured a straightforward rock style. One of its singles, "Jumpin' Jack Flash," hit the No. 1 spot on the U.K. charts.

In 1969, the Rolling Stones went through several big changes. Brian Jones left the group that June after his many drug arrests prevented him from leaving the country for the group's U.S. tour. He was replaced by 20-year-old guitarist Mick Taylor. Jones was found drowned in his pool less than a month later. The coronor's report found that Jones was under the influence of drugs and alcohol at the time of his death, and ruled his passing as "death by misadventure." In response to Jones' untimely demise, The Rolling Stones performed a free concert in Hyde Park on July 5, 1969, two days after Jones' death. Originally scheduled as an opportunity to present their new guitarist, the group dedicated the concert to Jones.

Before the concert began, Jagger read excepts from Percy Shelley's "Adonais," a poem about the death of a friend. Stagehands released hundreds of white butterflies as part of the tribute, and The Stones played one of Jones' favorite songs: "I'm Yours And I'm Hers."

Tragedy struck again several months later when the band launched their highly anticipated Let It Bleed (1969) album. To promote the record, the Stones organized a free concert at Altamont Speedway in northern California for that December. While the band was playing "Under My Thumb," a young man in the audience was stabbed and killed by a member of the Hell's Angels motorcycle gang. The tragic event was captured on film, and featured in the documentary Gimme Shelter.

Branching Out

Outside of the band, Jagger was branching out in acting. He played the title character, a legendary outlaw, in the film Ned Kelly (1970). In Performance (1970), Jagger played a reclusive rock star. Neither film made much of an impression on movie audiences.

While film success escaped him, Jagger remained a popular rock star. The Rolling Stones had several hit albums in the 1970sSticky Fingers (1971), Exile on Main Street (1972), and Some Girls (1978). By the mid-1980s, relationship between Jagger and Richards had become increasingly strained. Jagger focused much of his energy on a solo career with mixed results. While his first effort, 1985's She's the Boss, sold well enough to go platinum, his second album Primitive Cool (1987) failed to interest music buyers.

In 1989, the Rolling Stones were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Jagger and Richards decided to work together again around this time, resulting in Steel Wheels (1989), which reached the No. 3 spot on the U.S. album charts. To promote the record, The Rolling Stones toured extensively.

Jagger tried his hand at another solo record, 1993's Wandering Spirit, which was met with lukewarm enthusiasm. The following year, he fared much better with The Rolling Stones's latest effort Voodoo Lounge (1994). The record received strong marks from critics, winning a Grammy Award for Best Rock Album.

In between recording Bridges to Babylon (1997) and A Bigger Bang (2005) with The Rolling Stones, Jagger again aspired to establish himself as a solo artist with 2001's Goddess in the Doorway. He also developed a career for himself as a film producer, working on such projects as The Women (2008) and the forthcoming animated work Ruby Tuesday. Once viewed as a rebellious rocker, Jagger was the picture of decorum when he received a knighthood from Elizabeth II in 2003.

Personal Life

Jagger is a father of seven children. He has a daughter named Karis Hunt Jagger, born November 4, 1970 with actress Marsha Hunt. Around this time, Jagger became involved with Bianca Perez Moreno de Macias. The couple was married from 1971 to 1980 and welcomed a daughter named Jade Sheena Jezebel on October 21, 1971.

In 1990, Jagger wed longtime girlfriend model Jerry Hall. They had four children together: sons James Leroy Augustin (born August 28, 1985) and Gabriel Luke Beauregard (born December 13, 1997) and daughters Elizabeth Scarlett (born March 2, 1984) and Georgia May Ayeesha (born January 12, 1992). Their relationship ended in 1999 after Hall discovered that Jagger had an affair with model Luciana Gimenez Morad. After an initial dispute about paternity, Jagger was established to be the father of Morad's son, Lucas Maurice Morad, who was born on May 18, 1999.

Most recently, Jagger was romantically linked to designer L'Wren Scott, who launched a fashion brand in 2006. In March 2014, it was reported that Scott had been found dead at the age of 49, from an apparent suicide. According to reports, Scott hanged herself. At the time of her death, Jagger was on tour in Australia with his bandmates.

Source: Biography.com

Ultimate Rock Classic - Billy Joel Tags: ultimate rock classic billy joel word life production new qulaity entertainment

Artist Biography by Stephen Thomas Erlewine

Although Billy Joel never was a critic's favorite, the pianist emerged as one of the most popular singer/songwriters of the latter half of the '70s. Joel's music consistently demonstrates an affection for Beatlesque hooks and a flair for Tin Pan Alley and Broadway melodies. His fusion of two distinct eras made him a superstar in the late '70s and '80s, as he racked an impressive string of multi-platinum albums and hit singles.

Born in the Bronx, Joel was raised in the Long Island suburb of Hicksville, where he learned to play piano as a child. As he approached his adolescence, Joel started to rebel, joining teenage street gangs and boxing as welterweight. He fought a total of 22 fights as a teenager, and during one of the fights, he broke his nose. For the early years of his adolescence, he divided his time between studying piano and fighting. Upon seeing the Beatles on The Ed Sullivan Show in 1964, Joel decided to pursue a full-time musical career and set about finding a local Long Island band to join. Eventually, he found the Echoes, a group that specialized in British Invasion covers. The Echoes became a popular New York attraction, convincing him to quit high school to become a professional musician.

While still a member of the Echoes, Joel began playing recording sessions in 1965, when he was just 16 years old. Joel played piano on several recordings George "Shadow" Morton produced -- including the Shangri-Las' "Leader of the Pack" -- as well as several records released through Kama Sutra Productions. During this time, the Echoes started to play numerous late-night shows.


Later in 1965, the Echoes changed their name twice -- once to the Emeralds and finally to the Lost Souls. For two years, he played sessions and performed with the Lost Souls. In 1967, he left the band to join the Hassles, a local Long Island rock & roll band that had signed a contract with United Artists Records. Over the next year and a half, the Hassles released two albums and four singles, all of which failed commercially. In 1969, the Hassles broke up. Joel and the band's drummer, Jon Small, formed an organ-and-drums duo called Attila. In Attila, Joel played his organ through a variety of effects pedals, creating a heavy psychedelic hard rock album completely without guitars. On the cover of the band's eponymous album, both Joel and Small were dressed as barbarians; in an interview on the back of the album, Joel claimed to forget the name of his previous band and stated that he only "sweated" two things -- perfecting his sound and the war in Southeast Asia. Epic released Attila early in 1970 and it was an immediate bomb and the duo broke up. While the group was still together, Joel began a romance with Small's wife, Elizabeth; she would eventually leave the drummer to marry the pianist.

After Attila's embarrassing failure, Joel wrote rock criticism for a magazine called Changes and played on commercial jingles, including a Chubby Checker spot for Bachman Pretzels. However, Joel entered a severe bout of depression, culminating with him drinking a bottle of furniture polish in an attempt to end his life. Following his failed suicide attempt, Joel checked himself into Meadowbrook Hospital, where he received psychiatric treatment for depression.

Cold Spring Harbor

Joel returned to playing music in 1971, signing a deal with Family Productions. Under the terms of the contract, Joel signed to the label for life; the pianist was unaware of the clause at the time, but it would come back to haunt him -- Family Productions received royalties from every album Joel sold until the late '80s. Joel refashioned himself as a sensitive singer/songwriter for his debut album, Cold Spring Harbor, which was released in November of 1971. Due to an error in the mastering of the album, Cold Spring Harbor was released a couple of tape speeds too fast; the album remained in that bastardized form until 1984. Following the release of the album, Joel went on a small live tour, during which he would frequently delve into standup comedy. The tour received good reviews but Joel remained unhappy with the quality of his performance and, especially, the quality of the album. Furthermore, he lost a manager during this time and Family Productions was experiencing legal and financial difficulties, which prevented him from recording an immediate follow-up.

Early in 1972, he moved out to Los Angeles with his girlfriend Elizabeth. Joel adopted the name Bill Martin and spent half a year playing lounge piano at the Executive Room. Toward the end of the year, he began touring, playing various nightclubs across the country. At the beginning of 1973, Joel married Elizabeth Weber and she enrolled at UCLA's Graduate School of Management. Around the same time, a radio station began playing a live version of "Captain Jack" that was recorded at a Philadelphia radio broadcast. Soon, record companies were eagerly seeking to sign the pianist, and he eventually signed with Columbia Records. In order for Joel to sign with Columbia, the major label had to agree to pay Family Productions 25 cents for each album sold, plus display the Family and Remus logos on each record Joel released.

Piano Man

By the end of 1973, Billy Joel's first album for Columbia Records, Piano Man, had been released. The record slowly worked its way up the charts, peaking at number 27 in the spring of 1974. The title track -- culled from experiences he had while singing at the Executive Room -- became a Top 40 hit single. At the end of the summer, Joel assembled a touring band and undertook a national tour, opening for acts like the J. Geils Band and the Doobie Brothers. By the end of 1974, he had released his second album, Streetlife Serenade, which reached number 35 early in 1975. After its success, Joel signed a contract with James William Guercio and Larry Fitzgerald's management company, Caribou, and moved from California to New York. Through songs like "Say Goodbye to Hollywood" and "New York State of Mind," Joel celebrated the move on his 1976 album, Turnstiles. The sessions for Turnstiles were long and filled with tension, culminating with Joel firing the album's original producer, Guercio, and producing the album himself. Once he fired Guercio, Joel also left Caribou, and hired his wife as his new manager.

The Stranger

Turnstiles stalled on the charts, only reaching number 122. Joel's next album would prove to be the make-or-break point for his career, and the resulting album, The Stranger, catapulted him into superstardom. The Stranger was released in the fall of 1977. By the end of the year, it peaked at number two and had gone platinum, and within the course of a year, it would spawn the Top 40 singles "Just the Way You Are" (which would win the 1978 Grammy for Record of the Year and Song of the Year), "Movin' Out (Anthony's Song)," "She's Always a Woman," and "Only the Good Die Young." Over the next two decades, the album would sell over seven million copies. Joel followed The Stranger with 52nd Street, which was released in the fall of 1978. 52nd Street spent eight weeks at number one in the U.S., selling over two million copies within the first month of its release. The album spawned the hit singles "My Life," "Big Shot," and "Honesty," and won the 1979 Grammy award for Album of the Year. Although he had become a genuine star, critics had not looked kindly upon Joel's music, and the pianist became a vocal opponent of rock criticism in the late '70s. In one incident, he denounced Los Angeles Herald Examiner critic Ken Tucker on-stage and then, as a form of protest, tore up the critic's reviews.

Glass Houses

In the spring of 1980, Joel released Glass Houses, theoretically a harder-edged album that was a response to the punk and new wave movement. Glass Houses reached number one in America, where it stayed for six weeks; the album spawned the Top 40 singles "You May Be Right" (number seven), "It's Still Rock'n'Roll to Me" (number one), "Don't Ask Me Why" (number 19), and "Sometimes a Fantasy" (number 36) and won the 1980 Grammy for Best Rock Vocal Performance, Male. In the fall of 1981, Joel released Songs in the Attic, a live album that concentrated on material written and recorded before he became a star in 1977. The album's "Say Goodbye to Hollywood" and "She's Got a Way" became Top 40 hits.

The Nylon Curtain

Songs in the Attic bought Joel some time as he was completing an album he had designed as his bid to be taken seriously as a composer. Before the album was finished, he suffered a serious motorcycle accident in the spring of 1982. He broke his wrist in the accident -- it would take major surgery to repair the wound. In July of 1982, Joel divorced his wife, Elizabeth. His new album, The Nylon Curtain, was finally released in the fall. A concept album about baby boomers and their experiences, the album was a commercial disappointment, only selling a million copies, but it did earn him some of his better reviews, as well as spawning the Top 20 hits "Pressure" and "Allentown." Joel quickly followed the album in 1983 with the oldies pastiche An Innocent Man.

An Innocent Man restored Joel to his multi-platinum status, eventually selling over seven million copies and spawning the hit singles "Uptown Girl" (number three), "Tell Her About It" (number one), "An Innocent Man" (number ten), and "Keeping the Faith" (number 18). Several of the songs on the album were about model Christie Brinkley, who was engaged to Joel by the time the album was released. During 1983 and 1984, Joel became one of the first '70s stars to embrace MTV and music videos, shooting a number of clips for the album that were aired frequently on the network. Brinkley and Joel were married in the spring of 1985.

Greatest Hits, Vols. 1-2 (1973-1985)

Joel released a double-album compilation, Greatest Hits, Vols. 1-2 in the summer of 1985. Two new songs -- the Top Ten "You're Only Human (Second Wind)" and the Top 40 "The Night Is Still Young" -- were added to the hits collection; the album itself peaked at number six and would eventually sell over ten million copies. In the summer of 1986, Joel returned with the Top Ten single "Modern Woman," which was taken from the soundtrack of Ruthless People. "Modern Woman" was also a teaser from his new album, The Bridge, which was released in August. The Bridge was another success for Joel, peaking at number seven, selling over two million copies, and spawning the Top 40 hits "A Matter of Trust" (number ten) and "This Is the Time" (number 18), as well as "Big Man on Mulberry Street," which was used as the basis for an episode of the popular Bruce Willis/Cybill Shepherd television series Moonlighting.

Kontsert: Live in Leningrad

In the spring of 1987, Joel embarked on a major tour of the U.S.S.R., during which he had an on-stage temper tantrum and shoved a piano off the stage. His Leningrad concert was recorded and released in the fall of 1987 as the live double album Kohuept, which means concert in Russian. Joel was quiet for much of 1988, only appearing as the voice of Dodger in the Walt Disney animated feature Oliver and Company.

Storm Front

Joel fired his longtime manager and former brother-in-law Frank Weber in August of 1989, after an audit revealed that there were major discrepancies in Weber's accounting. Following Weber's dismissal, Joel sued Weber for 90 million dollars, claiming fraud and breach of fiduciary duty. Immediately after filing suit, Joel was hospitalized with kidney stones. All of this turmoil didn't prevent the release of his 12th studio album, Storm Front, in the fall of 1989. It was preceded by the single "We Didn't Start the Fire," whose lyrics were just a string of historical facts. The single became a huge hit, reaching number one and inspiring history students across America. Storm Front marked a significant change for Joel -- he fired his band, keeping only Liberty DeVito, and ceased his relationship with producer Phil Ramone, hiring Mick Jones of Foreigner to produce the album. Storm Front was another hit for Joel, reaching number one in the U.S. and selling over three million albums.

During 1990, Joel undertook a major U.S. tour, which ran well into 1991. In January, the court awarded Joel two million dollars in a partial judgment against Frank Weber, and in April, the court dismissed a 30 million dollar countersuit. At the end of the year, the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences honored Joel with a Grammy Living Legend award; that same year, Quincy Jones, Johnny Cash, and Aretha Franklin were also given the honor.

River of Dreams

Following the Storm Front world tour, Joel spent the next few years quietly. In 1991, he was awarded an honorary doctorate by Fairfield University in Connecticut. In the summer of 1992, Joel filed a 90 million dollar lawsuit charging his former lawyer Allen Grubman of fraud, breach of contract, and malpractice; in October of 1993, the two parties settled their differences out of court. Joel returned in the summer of 1993 with River of Dreams, which entered the charts at number one and spawned the Top Ten title track. Following the River of Dreams tour, Joel divorced Christie Brinkley. In 1996, he gave a series of lectures at a variety of American colleges. He performed at the 1999 New Year's Eve Party in Times Square, and 2000 Years: The Millennium Concert, a live album of this concert, was released early the following year.

Fantasies & Delusions (Music for Solo Piano)

His next studio record, Fantasies & Delusions, arrived in 2001 and was his first album of his own classical compositions. A year later, Twyla Tharp choreographed and directed Movin' Out, a Broadway musical based on Joel's music. A new venture as a children's author began in 2004 with the release of his first book, Goodnight, My Angel: A Lullaby. The 54-year-old Joel married the 23-year-old Katie Lee that same year and was making tabloid headlines again in March of 2005 when he checked into the Betty Ford Clinic for treatment of alcohol abuse. He checked out in April, and in November his four-CD/one-DVD career retrospective My Lives was released. Live in Madison Square Garden NYC and the accompanying 12 Gardens Live arrived in 2006.

In 2007, Joel released his first original composition since River of Dreams -- a ballad called "All My Life." He quickly followed it with "Christmas in Fallujah," a tune he wrote but did not sing; it was performed by Cass Dillon. After this brief burst of activity Joel returned to touring regularly, his most notable performance being the closing shows at the legendary Shea Stadium in July 2008. These two concerts were recorded and released as DVDs and CDs in the spring of 2011. On the heels of this live album came word that Joel was penning a memoir, but the book was quickly scrapped after the announcement.

Over the next couple of years, Joel transitioned toward performing in public frequently and, along with it, started to give more interviews. In 2013, he toured the United Kingdom and then performed at the Barclay Center in Brooklyn for his first New York solo headlining gig in five years. It wouldn't be his last: he soon announced that he'd have a regular residency at Madison Square Garden, performing 21 concerts in 2014 alone with an option to play there indefinitely. In addition to his New York shows, Joel also toured elsewhere in the U.S. He promoted these shows and the release of A Matter of Trust: The Bridge to Russia -- an expanded version of his 1987 live album Kohuept, containing two CDs of live performances from that Russian tour in addition to a documentary about the whole endeavor -- with a number of interviews, highlighted by a live "town hall" radio show with Howard Stern.

Source: AllMusic

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