Saturday, February 6, 2016

This Date in Rock Music History: February 7

1959:  The funeral for Buddy Holly was held at Tabernacle Baptist Church in Lubbock, Texas.  Over 1,000 mourners attended.

Top Track: "Paranoid" by Black Sabbath

This great track comes from 1970, the title song from Black Sabbath's second studio album:

Friday, February 5, 2016

This Date in Rock Music History: February 6

1960:  Jesse Belvin ("Guess Who" from 1959), who also co-wrote "Earth Angel" for the Penguins, died at age 27 in a car accident in Hope, Arkansas that also claimed the life of his wife and the driver of the car.
1961:  "Shop Around" by the Miracles was #1 on the R&B chart for a fourth week.

Thursday, February 4, 2016

This Date in Rock Music History: February 5

1957:  Bill Haley was welcomed by 5,000 fans when he arrived in Southampton, England for his first tour of the U.K.
1958:  The National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences (NARAS), which conducts the Grammy Awards, formed a chapter in New York City.
1962:  The hard-working Beatles played their usual two shows, one at the Cavern Club in Liverpool, England and the other at the Kingsway Club in Southport.  Ringo Starr sat in on drums as Pete Best was ill.

Tributes to Maurice White

Our brother Maurice White passed peacefully in his sleep this morning. The light is he, shining on you and me.

Fly On Maurice White

We worshipped EWF when we were youngbloods, and still do.

Thoughts & prayers with the family of our dear brother Maurice White. Your contributions to music will be kept in our hearts & souls 4ever.

Thank you Maurice White for being the architect that put together such an incredible band!

So goodnight Maurice White. In my life I can think of few in music who have given me more pleasure than you.
Embedded image permalink

Deeply saddened by the loss of the legendary Maurice White. forever!

Totally to hear of Maurice White's passing. My fav singer of all time and a man of pure elegance and kindness. RIP my friend

Rest in Peace Mr. Maurice White. is one of the greatest groups ever assembled. Thanks for the memories & the inspiration.

The music community has lost a legend. We remember GRAMMY winner Maurice White.

Thank you for the music, Maurice White! May you rest in peace!

"Maurice White", legend, pioneer, life long friend. Our condolences to the White family & friends. Share yr...

The Reasons Behind the Greatness of Maurice White

We told you last year that we were going to start seeing more deaths of great musicians and artists of the Rock Era, and we regret to inform you that Maurice White, the great leader, co-founder, songwriter, drummer, arranger, producer and singer with Earth, Wind & Fire, died this morning in his sleep.  White was 74.  (Note:  original reports from the group indicated White died Wednesday night.  Later Twitter reports, confirmed by both 'CNN' and 'USA Today', among others, altered his time of death to Thursday morning.)

The group was one of the top acts of the 70's, and White was nominated for 21 Grammys, winning seven, and he won four American Music Awards.  EWF was inducted int both the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and the Vocal Group Hall of Fame, and White was inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame as well.  In addition to his accomplishments in Earth, Wind & Fire, White worked with numerous artists including Barbra Streisand, Neil Diamond, the Emotions and Deniece Williams.

White was diagnosed with Parkinson's Disease in the late 1980s, which forced him to eventually stop touring with the group in 1994.

White was born in Memphis, Tennessee on December 19, 1941 and was a childhood friend of Booker T. Jones.  As a teenager, Maurice moved to Chicago, Illinois and found work as a session drummer at Chess Records.  White played behind the kit for artists such as Etta James, Ramsey Lewis, Muddy Waters, the Impressions, Buddy Guy and many others.  White played drums on "Rescue Me" by Fontella Bass.

In 1966, White joined the Ramsey Lewis Trio and played on nine of their albums.  Three years later, White formed a group with friends Wade Flemons and Don Whitehead called the Salty Peppers.  Maurice then moved to Los Angeles, and changed the name of the group to Earth, Wind & Fire.  He held auditions there to complete the group.

Earth, Wind & Fire released their self-titled debut album in 1971, and a follow-up later that year.  But the group didn't catch on and broke up after only being together for six months.  

But White didn't give up--he reformed the band the following year.  The first album under this lineup was Head to the Sky.  In 1974, the album Open Our Eyes yielded the group's first Top 30 hit, "Mighty, Mighty".

In 1975, Earth, Wind & Fire starred in and recorded the soundtrack to the movie That's The Way of the World.  The title song is a very underrated gem:

The album soared to #1 on the Album chart for three weeks.  The follow-up single, "Shining Star", flew up to #1.

The movie went nowhere, but another great song on the album is this Top Track*.

Due to the success of the album, the group hired a brass section known as the Phenix Horns.  That move gave Earth, Wind & Fire its trademark sound, and the Phenix Horns became much in demand by other artists.

The group released the live album Gratitude, which gave them another top 5--"Sing A Song".

The 1976 release Spirit went Double Platinum, and generated two hits.  "Getaway" went to #12 overall and #1 on the R&B chart.

In 1977, the group released the album All'n All, which gave them another #1 R&B hit--"Serpentine Fire".

The follow-up was this magnificent song, one of The Top Unknown/Underrated Songs of the Rock Era*.  Hard to believe it now, but this song peaked at #32.

Later that year, the group remade the Beatles' "Got To Get You Into My Life" for the movie Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band, and it became the group's third Top 10 hit.

"Jupiter" from the album is a Top Track*.

The group then released their first compilation, The Best of Earth, Wind & Fire, Vol. 1.  For the occasion, the group recorded a new song, "September", which hit #8 and went Gold.

The album has not sold over five million copies, a good indication of the group's huge and universal appeal.

In 1979, the group combined with the Emotions for the #6 hit "Boogie Wonderland".  All of a sudden, Earth, Wind & Fire had six Gold singles.

The album I Am also gave the band one of their biggest career hits, "After The Love Has Gone", which reached #2 and also went Gold.

EWF's last big hit came from the album Raise--"Let's Groove".

White led Earth, Wind & Fire to 33 career hits, with seven of those going Top 10 and one #1.  But many more of the supergroup's songs are either Top Tracks* or among some of The Top Unknown/Underrated Songs of the Rock Era*.

White was a genius who finally found the right combination, and Earth, Wind & Fire generated tremendous excitement at live shows and among its huge legion of fans with each album release.  Another of the greats of the Rock Era has passed--we will greatly miss Maurice White, but we have his fantastic music that will live on.

Inside The Rock Era Looks Back 25 Years Ago

With the annual Super Bowl approaching this Sunday, Inside The Rock Era remembers that moment 25 years ago, when Whitney Houston gave a spectacular performance of the U.S. national anthem.  The game on February 14 will come just three days after the four-year anniversary of Whitney's death.

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

This Date in Rock Music History: February 4

1954:  The Drifters recorded "White Christmas".
1955:  Elvis Presley gave two performances (7:30 and 9:30 p.m.) at Jesuit High School in New Orleans, Louisiana.
1959:  Frankie Avalon, Fabian and Jimmy Clanton took over as the headlining acts for the Winter Dance Party after the death of Buddy Holly.

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

This Date in Rock Music History: February 3

1958:  The Silhouettes reached #1 on the R&B chart with "Get A Job".

Monday, February 1, 2016

This Date in Rock Music History: February 2

1949:  RCA Records released a new smaller record with a bigger hole in the middle, called the 45 RPM.
1955:  The Coasters signed a recording contract with Atlantic Records.

Featured Unknown/Underrated Song: Train, with "Calling All Angels"

This song peaked at #19 in 2003, another proud member of The Top Unknown/Underrated Songs of the Rock Era*.  It's Train, from their album My Private Nation:

"Calling All Angels"

Written by Charlie Colin, Patrick Monahan, Jimmy Stafford and Scott Underwood

I need a sign to let me know you're here
All of these lines are being crossed over the atmosphere
I need to know that things are gonna look up
'Cause I feel us drowning in a sea spilled from a cup

When there is no place safe and no safe place to put my head
When you feel the world shake from the words that are said

And I'm calling all angels
I'm calling all you angels

I won't give up if you don't give up [Repeat x4]

I need a sign to let me know you're here
'Cause my TV set just keeps it all from being clear
I want a reason for the way things have to be
I need a hand to help build up some kind of hope inside of me


When children have to play inside so they don't disappear
While private eyes solve marriage lies cause we don't talk for years
And football teams are kissing Queens
and losing sight of having dreams
In a world that what we want is only what we want until it's ours

[Chorus x2]

Calling all you angels [Repeat till fade]

Signe Anderson Died on January 28

Signe Anderson, who like the recently departed Paul Kantner was a member of Jefferson Airplane.  Anderson died of a heart condition in Beaverton, Oregon on January 28, the same day as Kantner.
Anderson was the group's lead singer before Grace Slick joined.  But she gave birth to her first child after the group recorded their debut album, and realized that it would be difficult to raise the child and be on the road as a rock star.  Anderson's last performance was October 15, 1966, and Slick made her debut with the group the following night.  

Sunday, January 31, 2016

This Date in Rock Music History: February 1

1956 - The Rock and Roll Ice Revue opened at the Roxy Theater in New York City. 
1960:  Bill Black's Combo held on to #1 on the R&B chart for the fourth straight week with "Smokie - Part 2".
1960:  Johnny Preston's "Running Bear" captured the #1 spot overall for the third week.