A huge chapter in the history of the world of Rock ‘n’ Roll closed on Saturday night May 9. 2020. Little Richard was such a groundbreaker in so many ways. In so many other ways he was also a mystery.
Even the date of his birth is not known for sure. What is known is that he went from being a dishwasher in his hometown of Macon, Georgia to one of the most influential stars in all of Rock ‘n’ Roll.
Upon Hearing about the death of Little Richard Bob Dylan was quoted as saying “He was my shining star and guiding light back when I was a little boy. His was the original spirit that moved me to do everything I do”.
You are indeed a fortunate person if you have someone like Gene Shay as a friend or co-worker. He was the kind of individual who can change your life. Often, he did it by simply being himself. We all lost a real genuinely special person when Gene lost his battle with COVID 19.
When I first came to Philadelphia Gene was working at WHAT-FM. Before I had the chance to hear him, he was doing a Jazz show. His life and the of many performers changed when he started a new folk show on Sunday nights in 1962.
Shorty after his return from a tour of Europe, it was announced that John Prine has contracted the Corvid 19 virus and was taken to the hospital. Our hopes that he would pull through were dashed on April 7, 2020 when it was announced that he did not survive.
The world has lost not only a great songwriter, but a man who never forgot who he was while he wrote his songs. The days of delivering mail and driving a truck gave him a unique insight into life. His flat voice fit nicely with his songs that ranged from the sad to the funny.
Critics and fans alike were divided in their feelings for the Canadian band called Rush. But one thing that everyone agreed on was that their drummer was nothing short of sensational.
From the early age of 12 when he had his first drum lesson, it was apparent that Neil was gifted. He was also driven to be as good as his idol, Keith Moon. As a teen living in suburban Toronto, he was punished for pounding out rhythms on his desk in school. The teacher gave him what was thought to be a punishment. He was forced to stay in detention for an hour after school. Not a problem. He used the time to pound out the beats that Keith Moon used in the Rock Opera TOMMY.
It wasn't long before Peart was considered to be as wild in his drumming approach as Moon, but even more precise. He certainly wasn’t as wild in his private life. Neil spent most of his free time when he wasn’t drumming reading tons of books. He was very much influenced by the writings of Ayn Rand and loved science fiction. Both were major factors in the lyrics that he created for Rush.
For almost forty years Debbi Calton has kept Philadelphia radio listeners informed and entertained with her very personal style. On December 6, 2019, her last day at WMGK, she had the difficult task of saying goodbye. Saying goodbye to her was not easy.
I have known Debbi since she came to Philadelphia from WMET in Chicago in August of 1983 to join us at WYSP. I still remember when I was on the air and Debbi came into the studio for the first time. We hit it off right away. Of course, that isn’t hard to do with Debbi.
We did have more things in common than most in radio. The biggest thing (besides our love of music) was our history. I came from a Navy family. Debbi came from an Air Force family. You move around a lot. She lived in several places including Turkey. You don’t have lifelong friends because that is hard to do when you go to countless numbers of grade schools and three different high schools.
On November 26. 2019 all of us at WMGK got up very early for John DeBella’s annual turkey drop. John was at the Kimmel Center in center city, while the rest of us were station at 12 different Acme locations through the Delaware Valley. I was stationed at the Clifton Heights, PA store.
Our mission was the same as all the other years. Collect as many turkeys and/ or cash as we can from listeners while standing out in front of the store doing are best to stay warm. The listeners warmed us up by opening their hearts and pocketbooks.
Once again, this year the giving and generous spirit was out in full force. The final tally will not be known until the Monday after Thanksgiving because we are still encouraging people who couldn’t come up to donate online.
On November 22, 2019, the 54th annual induction of the Broadcast Pioneers of Philadelphia took place at the Hilton Hotel on City Avenue in Philadelphia. It was a night of laughter and holding back the tears.
I had the pleasure to be Co-MC for the predinner interviews and, as such, talked to several of the honorees prior to the induction. Of course, they were all excited for the night’s activities. It is very much like going to the Oscar or Emmy Awards. Those who I interviewed told me that they had friends and relatives attending that came from all over the country to witness their induction.
On Monday evening November 18, 2019 a gentle giant signed off. My friend, Gene Arnold, may not be known by many of you who are reading this, but please read on.
One of the very first on air people I met when I started at WIFI was Gene Arnold. He was already into Album Rock, so he was most encouraging.
Gene went on to do much for the new music Rock community. Below I have a couple of links that can give you a better understanding of just how much he did in his career. He did it all. He was a performer, writer, producer and had one the very best voices in radio.
The “Grumpy Old Rock Star Tour” found its way to the Scottish Rite Cathedral on October 11, 2019. Rick was anything but grumpy. And the sold-out crowd loved every second of it.
When I spoke to him (see Podcasts) he told me that his show was a combination of piano playing and silly stories. He was more than well equipped to do both.
Many people do not know just how funny this man, who is very serious about his music, can be. Those who were in the audience last night who didn’t know prior to the show quickly found out. From the time Rick walked on stage (almost on time) he had the audience totally captivated with his unusual show.
Back in the late 60’s when I was on the air at WDAS FM there were two rumors that kept popping up. The biggest one was that Paul McCartney was dead. The other was that Ginger Baker was dead. Fortunately, Paul is still alive after all these years, but unfortunately Ginger Baker died on October 6, 2019.
After my first encounter with the dynamic redhead, I was convinced that Ginger Baker was too feisty to ever die! His battles with fellow member of Cream, Jack Bruce, were legendary. Now 2/3 of Cream are gone.
In my book “Confessions of a Teenage Disc Jockey” I gave a full account of the night that I was able to convince both Eric Clapton and Ginger Baker to come to the WDAS FM studios for an interview. Eric was more than willing, but Ginger had to take a little more convincing. Perhaps the fact that Jack Bruce was coming helped. I didn’t know at the time that the two were consistently at odds, so it was a bit of luck that I was unable to even find Bruce to convince him.
It was the perfect night for a cookout and ZZ TOP and Cheap Trick did the cooking. Either band could have been the headliner, but apparently Cheap Trick lost the coin toss and went on first. Why not? The last time ZZ Top was at the BB&T Center just over a year ago as part of WMGK’s Heavy Hitters Concert, they opened for John Fogerty.
Before either act took the stage there was an unannounced act. A young blues singer named Marquise Knox and his band played their brand of Blues/Rock. It was an interesting mixture of the old and the new. Later Marquise was invited to play with Cheap Trick. It is always good that established acts are so willing to help new ones. That is how the music gets carried on.
I had a chance to talk with Marquise after his performance. He informed me that they have a new album coming out in 2020. He is lucky to even be alive or be able to perform. Last year he was stabbed in the neck after a performance in his home base of St. Louis. He is actually from Bowling Green, MO, an hour and a half from St. Louis. More information is available on his website http://www.Marquiseknoxblues.com.
Just as I was getting ready to write a review of last night’s Z Z Top and Cheap Trick concert, word came of the death of Ric Ocasek. This on the heals of Eddie Money’s death was a real double whammy. They say that these deaths come in threes. Let’s certainly hope not. We have lost enough talent already.
It was a day not to forget. When the first Cars album came out there was the usual hype from their record company. The promo guy from Electra Records was certain that they had a huge hit on their hands. OK, that has been said of many groups before that never made an impact.
After putting the debut Cars album on the turntable, you could tell from the very first few notes that this group was different. In an age of Progressive Rock getting more and more complex, the first cut “Good Times Roll” was unique. So, what else does the group have to offer?
On a Friday the thirteenth that also featured the rare occurrence of a full moon on that date, it was announced that Eddie Money died of esophageal Cancer. Eddie probably would have seen some humor in that.
The first time I met Eddie many years ago when he was first starting out, it was very evident that he found humor in most things. He was so upbeat. He laughed about how he also most became a New York City cop.
His grandfather and brother were policemen in New York City. So, it really wasn’t a big surprise that under his real name of Eddie Mahoney, he went to the police academy. He told me that while he passed the course, he never actually was on the force. NYPD’s loss was our gain.