When Spencer Davis appeared at the Main Point years ago it was long past the time of the famed Spencer Davis Group days. One might have thought that he wanted to leave all of that behind him, but when I spoke with him in the basement of the legendary club, he didn’t mind dragging up the past. In fact, he seemed rather proud of the fact that Steve Winwood was doing so well.
At the time I didn’t think to ask him if the stories of him being Steve’s German teacher in high school were true. It was a rumor that prevailed for some time. While Spencer was very fluent in German and did teach it while performing in clubs at night, in looking at his bios there’s nothing about him ever teaching the subject to Steve or his brother Muff.
John Zacherle was very much one of a kind. The Cool Ghoul was born and raised in Philadelphia and graduated from Penn.
When World War II broke out John Zacherle not only served but rose to the rank of Captain. After the war ended, John got serious about becoming an actor.
While he made his name as the host of horror TV shows, he started out being an actor and played several roles in a Western drama series that was featured on Philadelphia’s Channel 10. Management liked his ability so much they gave him his own show hosting horror movies using the name of Roland. This was despite the fact that he knew nothing about horror films because as a kid he was never allowed to see them. That didn’t keep him from creating a programed filled with both humor and drama.
From the very first time you heard Eddie Van Halen play his explosive guitar on “Eruption” was a lead in to the group’s cover version of The Kinks tune “You Really got Me” you knew that you were listening to one of the all- time great guitarists. It almost jumped out of the speakers at you. The 1:45 guitar effort was one of the most intense solos ever recorded.
On October 6, 2020 it was Eddie Van Halen’s son Wolf who broke the news to the world that his father had lost his two year long battle with Cancer. In his statement Wolf said “He was the best father I could ever ask for. Every moment I’ve shared with him on and off stage was a gift. My heart is broken and I don’t think I’ll ever fully recover from this loss.”
Eddie was born in the Netherlands but made his mark in California where he grew up. The initial group Van Halen was made up of Eddie, his brother Alex on drums Michael Anthony on Bass and the lead vocalist David Lee Roth. They wasted no time making a huge splash with their music.
It isn’t very often that a debut album captures the fans like they did. The first Van Halen album went on to sell ten million copies. Their live shows served to enhance Eddie’s reputation as an elite player. He was fast, but very accurate. The critics and fans loved it.
In the 2015 Rolling Stone’s list of the top guitarist of all time, Eddie was ranked eight. That put him right in between Duane Allman and Chuck Berry. Now that is being in great company.
Eddie also served as leader of the band. There were certainly many times that he probably wished that he wasn’t. The infighting of Van Halen is stuff of legends. The main focus of the friction was David Lee Roth. Apparently, the last straw was when Roth was livid that Eddie played on Michael Jackson’s huge hit “Beat it”. Roth was replaced by Sammy Hager.
Instead of tanking, the group went on to even greater heights. Between 1986 and 1995 with Hager handling the lead vocals, Van Halen scored four consecutive number one albums. That was something they had not done with David Lee Roth.
Then when it seemed that all was right with the band, Sammy Hager left the Van Halen. He was replaced by the lead vocalist from the band known as Extreme. However, things were never quite the same after that.
Even a reunion tour of the original line-up proved to nothing more than another food fight. And it wasn’t just the bickering in the band that was the ban of Eddie’s existence. His marriage breakup was front page news. Then his health starting to go bad. His reckless lifestyle was catching up to him.
He was forced off the road when he had to have his hip replaced in 1999. The chronic battle with his hip joint was a result of him never letting up on his wild stage performance. Then the years of heavy smoking most likely was the cause of him suffering from Cancer. In 2000 he had part of his tongue removed.
His battle with Cancer continued until the very end. We are indeed fortunate that the world will always have his “Eruption” to remember him by.
Billy Joel had a hit song called “The Ballad of Billy the Kid” that was part the story of an infamous outlaw and about himself. At a glance, there certainly doesn’t seem to be any parallels.
One recurring part of the many of the interviews of stars I have done over the years has been the childhood of these future stars. Most seem to have been born and raised in less than luxurious fashion. I often hear stories of having no bathrooms, heat or other things that are considered standard essentials today. In many cases, it served as a driving force in becoming Rock stars.
Two things happened recently that made my mind wander back to when I first met Linda Ronstadt. The first came from my own website. I was looking at the daily rock calendar and noticed that Linda Ronstadt and The Stone Poneys were listed as being at the Main Point on a certain day in 1968.
In a flash I was back there seeing her on stage. Between shows we chatted for a bit. She was so bubbly-almost hyper. I don’t know why, perhaps because Linda was so friendly, I asked her if she wanted to go out to dinner. Much to my surprise, yes said she’d loved the idea.
All of us have been impacted by this horrible Covid-19, but none more so than those in the music business. Venues have been shut down with no idea of when they may be able to open again. This has affected so many lives whose income depends on live music. Not only venues, but the performers as well are on the verge on going bankrupt.
If music means something to you, there’s a couple of ways that you can help. First there are concerts you can enjoy online. It may not be the same as actually being there, but you can enjoy some great music in the comfort of your own home.
August 16th marks the anniversary of a very special event. On that date in 1967 a new form of radio was born in Philadelphia.
In 1967 there was an explosion of new music. It was the Summer of Love. Much of it centered in San Francisco where flower power was born along with a whole host of new music acts the likes of that no one had ever seen before. In the clubs of the city by the bay you could see and hear The Jefferson Airplane, The Grateful Dead, Big Brother &The Holding Company and a host of other exciting new groups.
History is filled with mistakes and accidents. Sometimes these mishaps lead to major changes like wars, but often they lead to something good that was totally unexpected.
This is true about music as well. People, being only human, will sometimes do the wrong thing.
Record companies have made a lot of mistakes over the years. It isn’t easy picking hit songs. Unless you have tried it with your job on the line, don’t say “how could they be so wrong” when you read just some the mistakes they have made over the years.
The most famous mistake centers around The Beatles. It is common knowledge that they flunked their first record company audition. But there’s much more to their story.
During the course of my many years of playing music on the radio & TV, writing about it in Newspapers, magazines and books as well as just listening or watching music for fun, I have collected many related items. Those of you who have looked at this website at some of the memorabilia that is posted are looking at the tip of the iceberg.
For example, when people ask me how many vinyl records do I have in my collection, I can’t give them an honest answer. Generally, my answer is over 20,000. The truth is that I don’t know since they have never actually been counted. It would take far too long.
When Bob Dylan announced that he was releasing his first new original song in a several years, I was more than anxious to hear it. I make no pretense about being a huge Dylan fan. When I found out he was letting everyone hear it for free, I was not that surprised. He had his reason. What was a little more surprising was the length of the song called “A Murder Most Foul”. A seventeen plus minute song being released as a single? You could almost fit four of his lengthy big hit “Like a Rolling Stone” into it. Now I really must hear this.
Listening to Bob Dylan songs made a huge impact on me while I was in my teens. So much so, that like many others I spent countless hours pouring over the lyrics of his songs. That was especially true when his lyrics became more complicated. It got to the point where colleges were offering courses on Bob Dylan.
Does the bug that is sweeping the world have you sheltered in your home? With all the concerts being canceled, you may have the cabin fever blues.
Ok, you can’t get out to see your favorite acts in concert but seeing them at home are the next best thing. There are literally hundreds of in concert DVDs or streaming movies you can watch.
The only problem is picking them. There are a lot of inferior quality films out there. Some of it due to the filming itself and others border on just being a rip off. Unfortunately, some film makers (to make a quick buck) have dug up old footage that has never been released. Much of it wasn’t released for some very good reasons.
Then you have those that look appealing on the surface with big names. You view them only to find out that it concerts film of the groups in the near present with only one or two original members. One highlighted a band that was one of those “pretend to be them” bands. It is a buyer beware.
For those who were not around when IN THE COURT OF THE CRIMSON KING was released, it will be very hard for you to imagine what a huge impact this album had when it was released in 1969. It was nothing like anything that had ever been done before. Certainly nothing like anything done in the Rock world. The sound of the record was far more advanced than anything ever heard prior to its release.
When The Who was formed in 1964, not even the members of the band could predict that they would be around in 2020. This had nothing to do with 20/20 vision, but the reality that most Rock bands just fade away after a couple of hits.
From the time they called themselves The Detours, they have always displayed a flare for dynamic music and explosive stage shows. They were the first band to destroy both guitars and drums on stage. In one of their most memorable TV appearances ever, they even scared their hosts, The Smothers Brothers, by blowing up Keith Moon’s drum kit. Their album LIVE AT LEEDS remains one of the best live albums ever. Despite all the improvements in recording, the sound quality of the record is fantastic.
As time went on Pete Townshend proved to be a very skilled song writer and storyteller when he created the first ever Rock Opera in TOMMY. It was followed by one great album after another until 1978. The release of WHO ARE YOU marked the end of the original band. Keith Moon who had well known problems got to the point where he was unable to play some of the drum parts on the record. He died soon after.