Ultimate Classic Rock
Billy Joel is Ultimate Rock Classic! Tags: billy joel ultimat rock classic word life production new qulaity entrtainment

Singer Billy Joel topped the charts in the 1970s and '80s with hits like "Piano Man," "Uptown Girl" and "We Didn't Start the Fire."

Born on May 9, 1949, in New York, Billy Joel bounced back after a disappointing first album, Cold Spring Harbor (1971), with 1973's Piano Man, featuring hits like "Piano Man" and "Captain Jack." He went on to make successful albums like Streetlife Serenade (1974), The Stranger (1977) and 52nd Street (1978). In the 1980s, Joel married supermodel Christie Brinkley, and topped the musical charts with "Uptown Girl" and "We Didn't Start the Fire." By 1999, his worldwide song sales had topped $100 million, and he was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Several years later, in 2013, he received the Kennedy Center Honors.

Early Life

Singer-songwriter William Martin "Billy" Joel was born in the Bronx, New York, on May 9, 1949, to Howard and Rosalind Joel. Shortly after he was born, the family moved to a section of America's famous "first suburb," Levittown on Long Island. Although his father was an accomplished classical pianist, it was Joel's mother who pushed the young boy to study piano. He began playing at the age of four and showed an immediate aptitude for the instrument. By the time he was 16, Billy Joel was already a pro, having joined his third band before he could drive.

Early Career

It wasn't long before the artist, inspired by the Beatles' iconic Ed Sullivan Show performance, committed heart and soul to a life in music. He dropped out of high school to pursue a performing career, devoting himself to creating his first solo album Cold Spring Harbor, which was released in 1971. The terms of Joel's contract with Family Productions turned out to be onerous and the artist was unhappy with the quality of the album they released. It wasn't a commercial success.

Disillusioned with trying to make it as a rock star, Joel moved to Los Angeles to fly under the radar for a while. In early 1972, he got a gig working as a lounge pianist under the pseudonym Bill Martin. His time playing at The Executive Room on Wilshire Boulevard would later be immortalized in his song "Piano Man," which describes a no-name lounge's down-and-out patrons.

By late 1972, an underground recording of Joel's "Captain Jack" had been released on the East Coast and was garnering positive attention. Executives from Columbia Records sought out the lounge player and gave Joel a second chance to become a rock star.

Career Breakthrough

With the momentum of a Top 20 single ("Piano Man") to his name, Joel began recording new songs and albums, coming out with Streetlife Serenade in 1974. Many of his songs related to a growing frustration with the music industry and Hollywood, foreshadowing his exit from Los Angeles in 1976. As the years passed, Joel's style began to evolve, showing his range from pop to the bluesy-jazz stylings that are now closely associated with his name. The Stranger (1977) was Joel's first major commercial breakthrough, landing him four songs in the Top 25 of the U.S. Billboard charts. By 1981, Joel had collected a slew of awards, including a Grammy for Best Male Rock Vocal Performance and a People's Choice Award.

Awards and Achievements

Through the 1980s, Joel would be crowned a hit-maker with smashes such as "Tell Her About It," "Uptown Girl," "Innocent Man" and "The Longest Time." He would release two volumes of Greatest Hits and become the first American performer to unleash a full-scale rock production in the Soviet Union. While churning out hits, Joel would also frequent the benefit circuit, performing with stars such as Cyndi Lauper and John Mellencamp to raise money for various causes.

In 1989, on the heels of the successful single "We Didn't Start the Fire," Joel was presented with the Grammy Legend Award. His professional success continued unabated into the early 1990s, although his personal life became somewhat dramatic. After the release of River of Dreams (1994), Joel slowed his studio recordings but continued to tour alone and in combination with fellow artists such as Elton John. In 1999, the worldwide sales of his songs passed the 100 million mark. Also that year, Joel was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame by his idol, Ray Charles. Several years later, in 2013, Joel received the Kennedy Center Honors.

Later Career

In the early 2000s, Joel found himself in and out of rehab, struggling with an ongoing alcohol addiction. In 2007, Joel released the single "All My Life," his first song with original lyrics in 13 years. Though semi-retired in terms of recording new pop songs, Joel has continued to tour and branch out as an artist. He has composed a number of classical songs and even reworked older ballads with an orchestral backing.

Throughout the years, Joel's songs have acted as personal and cultural touchstones for millions of people, mirroring his own goal of writing songs that "meant something during the time in which I lived... and transcended that time."

When Joel's residency at Madison Square Garden was announced in 2013, his devoted fans proved how much the singer's music resonated with them. As the first music franchise in MSG's history, Joel broke records; his monthly concerts have sold out every time, and as of October 2015, he has grossed over $46 million in sales.

Personal Life

In 1982, Joel split with his first wife, Elizabeth Weber Small, who had been his partner since 1973. In 1984, Joel would famously meet and marry supermodel Christie Brinkley. Soon after, their daughter Alexa Ray (named after Ray Charles) was born on December 29, 1985.

Joel divorced Brinkley in 1993. In 2004, he married the television personality and journalist Katie Lee. They would eventually divorce after five years of marriage.

In 2015, Billy Joel and his girlfriend of six years, Alexis Roderick, announced they were expecting a baby together. That summer, Joel and Roderick tied the knot at the couple's annual Fourth of July party at his Long Island estate. New York Governor Andrew Cuomo presided over the nuptials. Their daughter Della Rose Joel was born on August 12, 2015.

Source: Biography.com

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/

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Blondie - Rock Classic Tags: blondie rock classic word life production new quality entertainment feature blog

Blondie started as an ironic update of trashy 1960s pop. But by the end of the 1970s, they were far and away the most commercially successful and adventurous survivors of the New York punk scene, having released three platinum albums (Parallel Lines, Eat to the Beat, and Autoamerican). In bleached-blond lead singer Deborah Harry, new wave's answer to Marilyn Monroe, the group had an international icon. The group's repertoire, written by Harry and boyfriend Chris Stein, inhabited the melodic side of punk and grew increasingly eclectic while Harry's deadpan delivery remained consistent.

Born in Miami, Harry was adopted at age three months by Richard and Catherine Harry. She grew up in Hawthorne, New Jersey, and, after graduating from high school, moved to Manhattan. Harry joined a folk-rock band, the Wind in the Willows, which released one album for Capitol in 1968; she worked as a beautician, a Playboy bunny, and a barmaid at Max's Kansas City. In the mid-1970s she became the third lead singer of a glitter-rock band, the Stilettoes, which also included future Television bassist Fred Smith. Stein, a graduate of New York's School of Visual Arts, joined the band in October 1973, and he and Harry reshaped it, first as Angel and the Snakes, then as Blondie.

By 1975 the band was appearing regularly at CBGB, home of the burgeoning punk underground. Its first single, "X Offender," was independently produced by Richard Gottehrer and Marty Thau, who sold it to Private Stock. The label released Blondie's debut, also produced by Gottehrer, in December 1976. The group expanded its cult following to the West Coast with shows at L.A.'s Whisky-a-Go-Go in February 1977 and opened for Iggy Pop on a national tour. A few months later, they made their British concert debut. In July, Gary Valentine (who wrote "[I'm Always Touched by Your] Presence Dear," a 1978 U.K. Top 10 hit) left the band to form his own trio, Gary Valentine and the Know, which broke up in spring 1980. In early 1978 Blondie's "Denis" hit Number Two in the U.K.

Blondie signed with Chrysalis in October 1977. Mike Chapman, a veteran of glitter pop, produced Parallel Lines, which slowly made its way into the Top Ten, breaking first in markets outside the U.S. The disco-style "Heart of Glass" hit Number One in April 1979 and gave the group a platinum album. Blondie maintained its popularity and dabbled in black-originated styles, collaborating with Eurodisco producer Giorgio Moroder for "Call Me" (Number One, 1980) for the American Gigolo Soundtrack, covering the reggae tune "The Tide Is High" (Number One, 1980), and recording a song including an extended Debbie Harry rap, "Rapture" (Number One, 1981), for Autoamerican (Number Seven, 1980). Harry also did the rounds as a celebrity, including an endorsement of Gloria Vanderbilt designer jeans in 1980.

As the group's success continued, there were reports that Stein and Harry were asserting more control. By 1981 some Blondie backing tracks were played by session musicians under Stein's direction. Burke produced the New York band Colors, and Destri released a solo album, Heart on a Wall, in 1982. In 1981 Harry released her solo KooKoo (Number 25). Produced under the direction of Chic's Bernard Edwards and Nile Rodgers, KooKoo went gold.

Harry also began acting, appearing off-Broadway in Teaneck Tanzi: The Venus Flytrap (1983), in the films Union City (1979), Videodrome (1982), and John Waters' Hairspray (1988), in the television series Wiseguy, and in Showtime's Body Bags.

Early in 1982 Infante brought suit against the group, claiming they were out to destroy his career by excluding him from group meetings, rehearsals, and recording sessions. The suit was settled out of court and Infante remained in the band. However, by late 1982, following a disastrous tour (Blondie was never known as a great live act), the group quietly disbanded.

Harry and Stein's planned vacation from the music business stretched to a couple of years after he was felled by a rare genetic illness called pemphigus. By 1987, their romantic relationship had ended. Harry's solo comeback was stalled in the mid-1980s by legal problems with Blondie's label, Chrysalis. Rockbird (Number 97, 1986) drew critical raves, but neither it nor her subsequent releases have approached Blondie's in sales or acclaim, although she has had major hits in the U.K. ("French Kissin' in the U.S.A.," Number Eight, 1986, and "I Want That Man," Number 13, 1989). She sang a duet with Iggy Pop, "Well, Did You Evah!," on the AIDS benefit album Red Hot + Blue. Harry collaborated with New York underground group the Jazz Passengers and appeared on their 1996 album Individually Twisted (32 Records).

Harrison and Burke joined a group called Checquered Past, which included ex-Sex Pistol Steve Jones. Later, Harrison supervised the music for several feature films, including Repo Man, before becoming an A&R man for Capitol and Interscope. In the early 1990s, Burke joined the Romantics and worked as a session musician with the Plimsouls, Dramarama, and Mark Owen. Stein continued producing acts for his Animal Records label, and Destri began producing.

In 1998, Blondie had something of a resurgence as Harry, Burke, Stein, and Destri reunited for No Exit (Number 18, 1999), Blondie's seventh studio album. No Exit, which contains an appearance by rapper Coolio on the title cut and yielded the poppy "Maria" (Number 82) helped engender a new generation of Blondie fans. In early 1999 the band launched a U.S. tour — its first in over 15 years — and recorded a live album. Meanwhile, ex-members Infante and Harrison filed a lawsuit in the summer of 1998 over the use of the Blondie name and royalties. In a separate legal case, Blondie sued former-label EMI for breach of contract, claiming EMI refused to pay the group proper royalties for albums recorded from 1977 to 1982 — a payment plan was agreed upon in 1996.

The group's catalog was reissued in 2001; each disc was expanded with demos, live tracks and covers. In 2003, the group released The Curse of Blondie (Number 160), its eighth studio album, and continued to tour, but relations between past and present Blondie remain tense: When Infante and Harrison appeared at the band's 2006 induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame—and made motions to try and join the band onstage—Harry dismissed them, saying "Can't you see my real band is up there?" Harry released another solo album, Necessary Evil, and appeared in a number of independent films. She also traveled with the True Colors tour in 2007.

In July, 2008, Blondie launched a sold-out world tour to celebrate the 30th anniversary of the release of Parallel Lines. In the summer of 2009, Blondie toured again, this time with Pat Benetar and the Donnas. In December, 2009, the band released a Christmas single, "We Three Kings," and announced plans to release a new album—the band's first since 2003—in 2010.

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

Source: Rolling Stone

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


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