01.27: "(Sittin' On) The Dock Of The Bay" became Otis Redding's one and only #1 hit, entering the charts on this day in 1968, just a little over a month-and-a-half after he died in a plane crash at the age of 26 (which still blows our mind and makes us sad). Now, get ready for some learnin', kids. Otis actually wrote the bulk of the song while he was staying on a houseboat - in a bay! Richardson Bay to be exact, in-between the beautiful California towns of Sausalito and Strawberry (sounds like a '70s disco duo). The song departed from Otis' deep soul style, flirting with more pop sensibilities, inspired and influenced by The Beatles, allowing his writing partner, Steve Cooper, to pen more personal lyrics. Before Otis' death, they'd planned on recording the last verse, for which lyrics still needed to be written, but which is held now and forever in place with that insanely awesome whistle solo, and adding a horn section or backup vocals by The Staple Singers. These things, of course, never happened. Those plans ended in a cold lake in Wisconsin, two days after the song's recording. This is one of those things that just make us sit up and reflect on not only the nature and frailty of life, but also the beauty of which life is capable, the amazing ability of people to produce lasting art and have that art affect generations. This is Otis. This is his legacy. If "Dock Of The Bay" is your in, then you should take it because to explore Otis' catalog is to explore the history and vitality of not only soul music, but music itself.
01.28: Tying back in to Mr. Van Halen's b-day two days ago, this day in 1984 saw Van Halen's 1984 hit the album charts for an impressive run of rock popularity, churning out hits such as "Jump," "Panama," and "Hot For Teacher," which itself spawned one of the best videos ever to impress impressionable young men everywhere (it doesn't hurt that the song absolutely shreds). Quite a week for the then-recently-turned-27-Eddie and the rest of the guys. 1984 turned out to be one of their most popular albums, both critically and commercially, yet also turned out to be the last recorded with Diamond David Lee Roth. Every album after this one held the Van Halen moniker, but we consider them to be either easy listening palatable (the Van Hagar years) or just complete crap (check out the Gary Cherone years, if you don't believe us). Though they've redeemed themselves recently with the reunion tours and the announcement of a new album with Diamond Dave, nothing can ever be as good as the good 'ol days, but that's how it should be. There's no going back, guys, but there will always be the fond memories and fuzzy feelings. And the "Hot For Teacher" video.
01.20: You might look at Ozzy Osbourne these days and think he's pretty tame, that he wouldn't harm a fly. But this is the Ozzy of the new millennium. This is the Ozzy of reality show fame/infamy, the Ozzy of cell phone commercials and marble-mouthed mumbles. It wasn't so long ago that many considered Ozzy a very dangerous man. Parents' groups denounced him as Satanic, saying that he wrote and performed music that made people want to kill themselves. His drug use and alcoholism didn't put him in many people's good graces, either, especially when he tried to strangle his wife, when he was arrested for urinating on the Alamo while wearing a dress, or when he went on a rampage and shotgunned all the family pets. Suffice it to say, most animal rights groups didn't take kindly to many of Ozzy's antics. Once, he bit a dove's head off during a meeting at his record company. What was a dove doing at the meeting, you ask? Well, Ozzy and Sharon, his wife, had planned on releasing a couple doves as a symbol of something or other, but Ozzy felt that their gesture of good will didn't receive the attention from the execs he was looking for. So, instead of just letting it go, he grabbed a bird and bit down, forever scarring some poor, innocent record company suits. Which brings us to this day in 1982, to a concert in Des Moines, Iowa, when Ozzy bit the head off another animal. This incident wasn't quite as blatant as the dove lunch he'd enjoyed, but, during the concert, someone tossed a bat onto the stage. Ozzy thought it was a rubber toy, so he did what any sane, head-biting person would do and bit its head off. Unbeknownst to him, until right after the bat bit him as he was biting it, the bat was real. Another animal fell to the power of the Mad Man. Some claim the bat was dead when it was tossed on stage, but Ozzy insists it was alive. We're not so sure of this because wouldn't it fly away after it'd been tossed, if it were alive? We're just sayin. Anyway, the Ozzman cometh and he is hungry, people. Lock up the cats, hide the birds, and don't make any sudden moves. That mumble-mouthed old rocker isn't as harmless as he appears.
01.14: Foo Fighters would not exist without Kurt Cobain's self-inflicted shotgun blast. Think about it. Would Dave Grohl ever have formed Foo Fighters and gone on to front one of the biggest mainstream rock bands of the last decade? Not in its present iteration, no. Maybe not at all. Things certainly would've turned out differently. Why do we bring this up today? Today is Dave's b-day. He was born on this day in 1969, and it just reminds us of things, induces another one of those thought experiments that frequently flit through our head. Now, by saying what we did, we in no way imply that Dave would rather Kurt killed himself that fateful day than not. Quite the contrary. Dave's said over and over and over how much he misses Kurt, how he tried to help and reach out and stop the inevitable. It's kinda twisted that it took the suicide of one of the biggest musicians of all time to bring Dave out from behind the kit and to the forefront of his own band. Would it have happened otherwise? Possibly in some form or another, with another set of musicians backing Dave, but Foo Fighters could not exist without Kurt's death. It sucks, but it's true. Personally, we'd take Kurt any day over Foo Fighters. To take this thought experiment further, would Nirvana still be together today if Kurt had survived his popularity? Dave had been writing the songs that would become Foo Fighters' first album while Nirvana was at their height. Maybe he would've split and started Foo Fighters. Maybe he would've just had a side project and release the songs on his own. Maybe Kurt would've helped Dave flesh out his songs. Maybe they would've recorded them as Nirvana songs. "My Hero"(our favorite Foo's song, btw) with Cobain's input? We could go on wondering things all day and night, but for now, we're just gonna say: Happy Birthday, Dave! You rock, man.
01.08: What a few coupla days for music-related birthdays! Today, in 1935, The King himself, Mr. Elvis Aaron Presley came into this world in Tupelo, Mississippi. Joining him for a birthday today are The White Duke, David Bowie (1947), and one Mr. Robert Sylvester "R." Kelly (1969), best known for being trapped in a closet and some other incidents we'd rather not mention.
01.09: Songbird Joan Baez flew into this world, and into, eventually, many a dirty hippy's heart, on this day in 1941. While her music and words are held in high esteem by many within the music community, many consider them to be fluff and her delivery to be grating. We dig her. Nuff said on that. We're celebrating another birthday today, as well, and we totally dig the fratastic stylings of one Mr. David John "Dave" Matthews who danced, very goofily, we might add, into this plane of existence on this day in 1967, in a little town known as Johannesburg, South Africa. Yeah, we know, it's not cool, in many music circles, to like Dave Matthews Band, but we do, so nanny, nanny, boo, boo, and get over yourself.
Battle of the Bands Competition Gives Emerging ArtistsThe Chance To Take The Stage In Rome
Orlando, Fla., January 7, 2014 – Hard Rock is on the search for rising rock stars to take the stage in the heart of the Roman Empire! Hard Rock Rising, the world’s largest and most far-reaching battle of the bands competition, will give one local band the chance of a lifetime – an all-expenses paid trip to Rome, Italy to perform at the first Hard Rock Live Rome music festival this summer! The selected runner-up bands will each receive new music equipment and gear valued at $10,000.Hard Rock, in partnership with the online musician community ReverbNation, will host open registration for bands wishing to participate in the global battle starting on Monday, January 6, 2014, through Friday, January 27, 2014. The combination of Hard Rock’s iconic brand and ReverbNation’s extensive network of more than 3.3 million artists in 250 countries worldwide will provide undiscovered bands with an international stage to jumpstart their careers.“Hard Rock is committed to discovering new musical talent and supporting the emerging artists of tomorrow through the Hard Rock Rising program,” said John Galloway, Vice President and Chief Marketing Officer for Hard Rock International. “Over the past two years, more than 24,000 artists entered to compete in Hard Rock Rising where more than one million songs from these up and coming artists were downloaded by fans – we’re honored to welcome these artists to Hard Rock’s global stage and look forward to discovering more talent in 2014.”“Like Hard Rock, we believe that great music should be heard,” said Mike Doernberg, CEO and Co-founder of ReverbNation. “In everything we do, we work to expose our community of undiscovered and largely independent musicians to opportunities to get heard, get discovered, and find new fans. The Hard Rock Rising program continues to be the perfect execution of our mission.”
Jeff Nolan, Hard Rock's extremely eminent, insanely knowledgeable, and just downright handsome historian, has been so kind at to put together his thoughts on the year in music, 2013. And...here...we...go!
2013 has come and gone, leaving a fetid stain of rehashed ‘80s synth pop, electro-disco bleatings, corporate post-grunge and pretentious Americana performed by people who seem the think that repeated viewings of their dad’s VHS copy of The Last Waltz gives them depth. Kids are buying freakin’ BANJOS these days for cryin’ out loud. Pedal your fixed-gear bike off my lawn. That said, here are my picks for best albums of 2013: