Saturday, January 2, 2016

This Date in Rock Music History: January 3

1955:  Elvis Presley performed in Booneville,Virginia.

1957:  Fats Domino recorded "I'm Walkin'".
1960:  Bobby Darin and Connie Francis performed together on The Ed Sullivan Show.

Friday, January 1, 2016

This Date in Rock Music History: January 2

1926:  The first issue of Melody Maker went on sale.
1964:  The Rolling Stones performed "I Wanna' Be Your Man", a song written for them by the Beatles, on Top of the Pops in the U.K.

Thursday, December 31, 2015

The Top 10 Songs of 2015

It is an Inside The Rock Era tradition every New Year's Eve.  We are the first to tell you that these year-end countdowns are but a snapshot of the popularity of songs, and that to truly know where they stand in the Rock Era, one must continue to track them yearly as they accumulate sales and airplay.

But they're still fun, and people want to know what The Top 10 Songs of the Year are, so here they are.  So as of December 31, 2015, these are the Top 10 songs of the year.

#1. Uptown Funk!
Mick Ronson featuring Bruno Mars

#2.  Hello 

#3.  Shake It Off
Taylor Swift

#4.  Thinking Out Loud
Ed Sheeran

#5.  See You Again
Wiz Khalifa Featuring Charlie Puth

#6.   Earned It 
The Weeknd 

#7.  Shut Up And Dance
Walk the Moon 

#8.  Take Me To Church

#9.  Sugar
Maroon 5

#10.  The Hills
The Weeknd

Happy New Year! This Date in Rock Music History: January 1

1955:  Elvis Presley performed at Eagles Hall in Houston, Texas.
1956:  "Rock Around The Clock" by Bill Haley & the Comets returned to #1 in the U.K.

New Musicians and Artists in Rock & Roll Heaven in 2015, Part 11

Inside The Rock Era wraps up our annual feature with these three people who have contributed mightily to the Rock Era:

New Musicans and Artists in Rock & Roll Heaven, Part 10

Inside The Rock Era is once again saluting those who joined Rock &  Roll Heaven.  We know most of you will appreciate what they have done for your lives:

Dallas Taylor, drummer with Crosby, Stills & Nash and Van Morrison, died of complications from pneumonia and kidney disease January 18, 2015 in Los Angeles at the age of 66. 

Sid Tepper, who with Roy C. Bennett wrote "Red Roses For A Blue Lady", "Kewpie Doll" for Perry Como and songs for the Beatles, Elvis Presley, Frank Sinatra, Tony Bennett, Sarah Vaughn, Peggy Lee, Rosemary Clooney, Dean Martin, Cliff Richard and Jeff Beck, among others, died April 24, 2015 at age 96 in Miami Beach, Florida.

Allen Toussaint, singer, songwriter and producer who worked with Paul Simon, Joe Cocker, the Band, the Neville Brothers and Lee Dorsey, died November 10, 2015 of a heart attack after appearing in concert in Madrid, Spain at the age of 77.  Toussaint wrote "Mother-In-Law" for Ernie K. Doe, "Southern Nights" for Glen Campbell and "Working In The Coal Mine", among others, and produced "Lady Marmalade" for Labelle and "Right Place, Wrong Time" for Dr. John.  (Note:  some websites erroneously say Toussaint was born in Gert Town.  Gert Town is a neighborhood, not a city.  Birth certificates do not list the neighborhood in which you are born.)

New Musicians and Artists in Rock & Roll Heaven in 2015, Part Nine

Saluting the great artists and musicians who joined Rock & Roll Heaven this year:

Billy Joe Royal, who gave us the songs "Down In The Boondocks" and "Cherry Hill Park"died October 6, 2015 in Morehead City, North Carolina at the age of 73.

Paul Serrano, jazz trumpeter and head recording engineer for Delmark Records, who worked with Michael Jackson, Aretha Franklin, Al Green, Natalie Cole, Tower of Power and Mick Jagger, died January 15, 2015 in Burbank, Illinois at the age of 82 after battling Parkinson's Disease for 25 years.  Serrano played trumpet on hundreds of records for Chess, Brunswick and Mercury Records.  (Note:  some websites say that Paul died in Kansas City, Kansas.  He died in Burbank, according to the newspaper 'The Chicago Tribune'.)


P.F. Sloan (Philip Gary Schlein), singer, guitarist, and songwriter who worked with the Fifth Dimension, the Mamas & the Papas, Jan & Dean (singing falsetto on "The Little Old Lady From Pasadena") and the Rip Chords and wrote "Eve Of Destruction" for Barry McGuire, "Secret Agent Man" for Johnny Rivers, "You Baby" and "Let Me Be" for the Turtles, "Where Were You When I Needed You" for the Grass Roots and "A Must To Avoid" for Herman's Hermits, among others, died November 15, 2015 in Los Angeles of pancreatic cancer at age 70.

Lew Soloff, who played trumpet and flugelhorn with Frank Sinatra and Paul Simon and was a member of Blood, Sweat & Tears from 1968-1974, and also played for George Benson, Chuck Mangione, Maynard Ferguson, Dizzy Gillespie and others, died March 8, 2015 of a heart attack in Brooklyn, New York  at age 71.  (Note:  many websites lazily say Soloff died in New York City, which of course is made up of several boroughs.  He died in Brooklyn, according to the newspaper 'The New York Times'.)

Soloff played the unforgettable 35-second trumpet solo on "Spinning Wheel".

Keyboardist Paul Shaffer, of Late Show With David Letterman—was among Soloff’s closest friends. “He could play anything with authority and credibility,” Shaffer said. “And his ambition was always to be an artist, a soloist. But he had the kind of training that enabled him to become a number-one, first-call studio musician.” 


David Somerville, co-founder and original lead singer with the Diamonds ("Little Darlin'), who also worked with the Four Preps, died July 14, 2015 in Santa Barbara, California of prostate cancer at the age of 81.  (Note:  some websites insist he died July 15, but according to the official website for Somerville, he died July 14.)

Chris Squire, bassist, keyboardist and singer with several groups, most notably Yes (a group Chris co-founded), died of acute erythroid leukemia June 27, 2015 in Phoenix, Arizona at the age of 67.

New Musicians and Artists in Rock & Roll Heaven in 2015, Part Eight

We salute those members of the Rock Era who have joined Rock & Roll Heaven in 2015:

Mike Porcaro, co-founder and bassist of Toto, and brother of Jeff and Steve Porcaro, died March 15 in Los Angeles of amyotophic lateral sclerosis (Lou Gehrig's Disease).  Jeff was 59 years old.


 In addition to being with Toto for nearly 25 years, Porcaro also worked with Michael Jackson, Aretha Franklin, America, Dionne Warwick, the Pointer Sisters, Dan Fogelberg, Seals & Crofts, Natalie Cole, Donna Summer, Cher, Pink Floyd, Christopher Cross, Juice Newton, Boz Scaggs, Pablo Cruise, .38 Special, Stevie Nicks, Ricky Martin, Michael McDonald, Steve Vai and Eric Carmen, to name a few.

Gary Richrath, guitarist with REO Speedwagon, died September 13, 2015 in Bloomington, Illinois at the age of 65.

Preston Ritter, drummer of the Electric Prunes, died March 30, 2015 after years of dialysis for kidney problems, including two kidney transplants.  After leaving the group, Ritter became a session musician, working with the Beach Boys, Linda Ronstadt and Dobie Gray, before becoming a DJ. 

 As if that wasn't enough to achieve in a lifetime, he then became a police officer and an investigator.  Preston then became a missionary in Korea, where he taught theology. 

Ritter then returned to Los Angeles and became a drum teacher and an author of several books on drum methods.

We salute you, Preston, for your great contributions to our lives. 

Cynthia Robinson, trumpeter and singer with Sly and the Family Stone and Graham Central Station, died November 23, 2015 of cancer at age 71 in Carmichael, California.  (Note:  some websites claim Robinson was 69 when she died.  She was 71, according to 'CBS, 'CNN' and the newspaper 'The New York Times'.)

New Musicians and Artists in Rock & Roll Heaven, Part Seven

Inside The Rock Era is saluting people who brought you a lot of great music in their careers before passing away in 2015:

Michael Masser, one of the great songwriters of the Rock Era, died July 9, 2015 at age 74 in Rancho Mirage, California, three years after suffering a stroke.

Here is a short list of songs Masser has written:  "Touch Me In The Morning", "Last Time I Saw Him", "Theme From 'Mahogany'" and "It's My Turn" by Diana Ross, "Greatest Love Of All" (originally for George Benson and later made famous by Houston), "Didn't We Almost Have It All", "Saving All My Love For You" 'Hold Me" and "All At Once" for Houston, "Tonight, I Celebrate My Love" for Roberta Flack and Peabo Bryson, "If Ever You're In My Arms Again" by Bryson, "Miss You Like Crazy" by Natalie Cole and "Nothing's Gonna' Change My Love For You" for  Benson and later Glenn Medeiros. 

Masser helped catapult Whitney Houston to fame. 

Rose Marie McCoy, singer and songwriter whose songs have been recorded by Elvis Presley ("I Beg Of You"), the Eagles, Aretha Franklin, Linda Ronstadt, James Taylor, Nat King Cole, the Platters, Faith Hill, Little Willie John, Ike & Tina Turner, Patti Page, Del Shannon, Eddy Arnold and Lenny Welch, among others, died January, 2015 in Urbana, Illinois at age 92.  McCoy wrote over 850 songs over seven decades.  

Danny McCulloch, bassist for the second incarnation of the Animals (from 1966-69), died of heart failure January 29, 2015 at age 69.

Superb poet and songwriter Rod McKuen died January 29 in Beverly Hills, California at the age of 81 of respiratory arrest following pneumonia.
McKuen wrote over 1,500 songs for Madonna, Barbra Streisand, Frank Sinatra, Petula Clark, Dusty Springfield, Perry Como, Andy Williams, Johnny Mathis and Percy Faith, among others.  Of those, "Seasons In The Sun" by Terry Jacks and "Jean" for Oliver became his biggest.   

 McKuen's songs have helped sell over 100 million albums worldwide, and 60 million books of his poetry have sold as well.

New Musicans and Artists in Rock & Roll Heaven, Part Six

Here are more of the Rock Era musicians and artists who passed away in 2015:

New Musicans and Artists in Rock & Roll Heaven, Part Five

Appreciating the great talent which contributed so much to the Rock Era.  Gone but not forgotten...

The great Natalie Cole has died

Natalie Cole has died in Los Angeles of congestive heart failure.  She was 65.

Natalie burst onto the scene in 1975 with her debut album Inseparable, which featured the Top 10 hit "This Will Be".

Two years later, Cole scored her first Gold record with "I've Got Love On My Mind".

Cole also gave us this great song in 1978...

But she may be remembered best for the vocal she recorded in 1991.  The vocal was then  mixed with one her father Nat "King" Cole had recorded before he died in 1965.

New Musicians and Artists in Rock & Roll Heaven in 2015, Part Four

Join us all day today as we celebrate and salute the contributions of those who have died in 2015:

Lesley Gore died February 16, 2015  of lung cancer in Manhattan, New York at age 68.

New Musicians and Artists in Rock & Roll Heaven in 2015, Part Three

Here are seven more members of Rock & Roll Heaven to salute:

Jack Ely, singer and guitarist with the Kingsmen ("Louie Louie"), died April 28, 2015 in Redmond, Oregon.  (Note:  some websites claim Ely died in Terrebonne, Oregon.  He died in Redmond, according to his son in the newspaper 'The Los Angeles Times' and in 'Billboard' magazine.)

New Musicians and Artists in Rock and Roll Heaven, Part Two

Here is Part Two of our annual feature:

Drummer Bob Burns, one of the founding members of Lynyrd Skynyrd, died April 3, 2015 in a car accident in Cartersville, Georgia.  He was 64.

New Musicians and Artists in Rock & Roll Heaven for 2015, Part One

Hundreds of musicians died this year, including close to 60 that you very well might know.  For ease of uploading and listening to the tremendous contributions these newest members of Rock & Roll Heaven made to our lives, we have separated our feature into 11 sections:

Wednesday, December 30, 2015

This Date in Rock Music History: December 31

1955:  It's unusual for an artist's debut single to be a Christmas song, but on this date, a new group appeared on the chart for the first time with their version of "White Christmas", the first single for the Drifters.
1956:  Elvis Presley promoted Wink Martindale's upcoming charity concert on Wink's local television special in Memphis, Tennessee.

Tomorrow on Inside The Rock Era...

We present two anticipated regular features of Inside The Rock Era--Musicians and Artists who have joined Rock & Roll Heaven in 2015*, and The Top 10 Songs for the Year 2015*.

Join us tomorrow for those great salutes, and Happy New Year!

Tuesday, December 29, 2015

This Date in Rock Music History: December 30

1957:  Sam Cooke's "You Send Me" finished the year as the #1 R&B song, where it had been for six weeks.  
1957:  The top album was Elvis' Christmas Album, which many radio stations banned from airplay because they didn't think a rock and roll artist should play Christmas music.

Monday, December 28, 2015

This Date in Rock Music History: December 29

1955:  Barbra Streisand recorded her first song, at the age of 13.
1956:  Buddy Holly and four others chased and detained a shoplifter from a store in Lubbock, Texas.
1956:  Fats Domino sat atop the R&B chart  for the 11th week with "Blueberry Hill".  

Sunday, December 27, 2015

This Date in Rock Music History: December 28

1959:  "Teen Angel" by Mark Dinning moved from #100 to #50.
1960:  The movie Where the Boys Are, starring Connie Francis, premiered in the Gateway Theatre in Fort Lauderdale, Florida and Radio City Music Hall in New York City.  (Note:  some websites claim the premiere was on December 31, but according to the newspaper 'The Sun-Sentinel', the simultaneous premieres were on December 28.)

1963:  The Singing Nun wrapped up a four-week stay at #1 on the Easy Listening chart with "Dominique".
1963:  "Dominique" was #1 for a fourth week overall.  Bobby Vinton provided the closest competition with "There!  I've Said It Again".
1963:  The Soundtrack to "West Side Story" re-entered the Top 10 in its 114th week of release.

1968:  Pink Floyd, Jethro Tull, Jeff Beck and the Pretty Things appeared at the Flight to Lowlands Paradise II festival at the Margriethal-Jaarbeurs in Utrecht, the Netherlands.
1968:  In essentially what was a precursor to Woodstock, Three Dog Night, Joni Mitchell, the Turtles, Fleetwood Mac, Marvin Gaye, the Grass Roots, Chuck Berry, Steppenwolf, the Box Tops, Canned Heat, Jr. Walker and the Allstars, Procol Harum, Iron Butterfly, the McCoys, the Grateful Dead, Blues Image, Procol Harum, Jose Feliciano, Richie Havens, Country Joe and the Fish, the Paul Butterfield Blues Band and others performed at the Miami Pop Festival at Gulfstream Park in Hallandale, Florida.
1968:  The Rolling Stones debuted at #3 in the U.K. with their album Beggar's Banquet.

1968:  Marvin Gaye ruled the R&B chart for a third week with "I Heard It Through The Grapevine".
1968:  Glen Campbell scored a third week at #1 on the Adult chart with "Wichita Lineman".
1968:  The Beatles reached #1 with The White Album after just three weeks.  Wichita Lineman from Glen Campbell was second with Cheap Thrills from Big Brother & the Holding Company in third.

1968:  Marvin Gaye had the biggest hit of his career with "I Heard It Through The Grapevine", #1 for a third week.  The Temptations climbed into the Top 10 with "Cloud Nine".
1969:  Detroit, Michigan declared it "Temptations Day".
1974:  Stevie Wonder registered his 11th #1 song on the R&B chart, and fifth out of his last seven releases, with "Boogie On Reggae Woman".
1974:  Barry Manilow rose to #1 on the Adult chart with his first single, "Mandy".

1974:  Helen Reddy owned the new #1 with "Angie Baby".  Elton John moved to challenge with his remake of the Beatles' song "Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds".  Barry White was up to 3 with "You're The First, The Last, My Everything", Carl Douglas surrendered to #4 with "Kung Fu Fighting" and the previous #1 "Cat's In The Cradle" from Harry Chapin was fifth.  The rest of an excellent Top 10:  Paul McCartney & Wings with their double-sided "Junior's Farm"/"Sally G", the Three Degrees with "When Will I See You Again", Neil Sedaka was back with his first Top 10 in 12 years--"Laughter In The Rain", Ringo Starr bounced up from 14 with "Only You" and Stevie Wonder collected his 36th hit and his sixth Top 10 in his last seven releases with "Boogie On Reggae Woman".

The group Jethro Tull was up to #2...

1974:  Elton John's Greatest Hits was the #1 album for the fifth week with War Child from Jethro Tull #2 and Neil Diamond's Serenade #3.  Harry Chapin moved to #4 with Verities & Balderdash while John Denver edged up with Back Home Again.  The rest of the Top 10:  Fire from the Ohio Players, the Rolling Stones fell hard with It's Only Rock 'N Roll, Loggins & Messina were at #8 with Mother Lode, Helen Reddy's Free and Easy stopped off at #9 and Ringo Starr entered the Top 10 with Goodnight Vienna.
1979:  At the third of Paul McCartney's concerts in London to benefit the country of Kampuchea, the Who and the Pretenders joined him.

1983:  Dennis Wilson of the Beach Boys drowned while diving near his boat in the harbor of Marina del Ray, California.

"Minutes to Memories", one of the best songs you've never heard (unless you've been a regular visitor on this blog!

1985:  The "Miami Vice" Soundtrack moved back up to #1 on the Album chart, taking over from the self-titled Heart.  John Cougar Mellencamp remained in the #3 spot with his great album Scarecrow while Barbra Streisand was up to #4 with The Broadway Album.  Knee Deep in the Hoopla from Starship and Songs from the Big Chair by newcomers Tears for Fears each entered the Top 10.

1985:  Lionel Richie remained at the top of the Adult Contemporary chart for a fourth week with "Say You, Say Me".  Incredibly, Richie had hit #1 with four straight songs and nine out of 10 since he left the Commodores.  More impressively, Lionel had accumulated 20 weeks at #1 on the Adult chart in his last four releases and 41 weeks in a five-year period.
1988:  Nirvana performed at the Hollywood Underground in Seattle, Washington.
1991:  The Red Hot Chili Peppers, Pearl Jam and Nirvana combined for a show at Pat O'Brien Pavilion in Del Mar, California.
1992:  Paul Simon and Edie Brickell celebrated the birth of Adrian Edward Simon.
1993:  Shania Twain married her producer, Robert "Mutt" Lange.
1993:  The Spice Girls achieved their third #1 song in the U.K. with "2 Become 1".
   In most other times, R. Kelly would have a #1 song...

1996:  Toni Braxton dominated the competition with a fourth week at #1 with "Un-Break My Heart".  R. Kelly was second with "I Believe I Can Fly" while En Vogue closed to #3 with "Don't Let Go (Love)".
2004:  Bono of U2 was the guest editor on BBC Radio 4's news program Today.

2005:  Mary J. Blige debuted at #1 on the Album chart with The Breakthrough.

Born This Day--Birthdays of Rock Era Personalities:
1914:  Roebuck "Pops" Staples, songwriter, guitarist and singer with the Staples Singers ("Respect Yourself"), was born in Winona, Mississippi; died December 19, 2000 after suffering a concussion from a fall in his home in Chicago, Illinois.
1921:  Johnny Otis ("Willie And The Hand Jive" from 1958), composer, arranger, singer, drummer and percussionist, talent scout and producer, was born in Vallejo, California; died of natural causes at the age of 90 in Los Angeles.
1932:  Dorsey Burnette, brother of Johnny and father of Billy Burnette, and who wrote songs for Jerry Lee Lewis, Rick Nelson and others, was born in Memphis, Tennessee; died August 19, 1979 of a massive coronary in Canoga Park, California.
1938:  Charles Neville of Joey Dee & the Starlighters and the Neville Brothers, was born in New Orleans, Louisiana.
1938:  Gene Thomas (real name Gene Thomasson) of Gene & Debbe ("Playboy") was born in Palestine, Texas; died August 26, 2012 of lung cancer in Fredericksburg, Texas.

1946:  Edgar Winter, famous multi-instrumentalist and leader of the Edgar Winter Group, and young brother of Johnny, was born in Beaumont, Texas.
1947:  Dick Diamonde (real name Dingeman Ariaan Henry van der Sluijs), bass guitarist of the Easybeats ("Friday On My Mind") was born in Hilversum, the Netherlands.

1950:  Alex Chilton, lead singer, guitarist and songwriter of the Box Tops and later a producer, was born in Memphis, Tennessee; died of a heart attack March 17, 2010.
1954:  David Jaymes, bassist of Modern Romance, was born in Woodford, Essex, England.  (Note:  some websites say that the Modern Romance musician was David Jaynes--that is false.  David Jaynes was a quarterback in football; David Jaymes was the bassist in Modern Romance.  Some websites show his birthday as November 28--reputable sites report that his date of birth was December 28, and in the book 'The Great Indie Discovery' by Martin Charles Strong, Strong confirms that James was born on December 28.)

1978:  John Legend (real name John Stephens), solo artist and session vocalist and musician, was born in Springfield Ohio.