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:
12.31: Okay, let’s go back in the Way Back Machine. We’re going back to the early ‘80s, a time before the fandangled interweb thingamajiggy, upon which you find yourself this very second, a time when, compared to now, the music business seemed small, almost quaint. It was before the rise of alternative rock, before the term “hip-hop” entered the lexicon and most people just called it “rap music,” before MySpace and YouTube, a time when you owned a record player, a boom box, or were still relegated to Super 8s (look it up). Michael Jackson made people take notice for his music not his life and Madonna struggled to get her nascent name on the tips of everyone’s mind. In 1983, a little band from Sheffield, England, came out with an album called Pyromania and the world exploded in awesomeness. Def Leppard blended the metal of the previous decade (Black Sabbath, Judas Priest) with the melodic sense of theater that came from glam rock (David Bowie, T.Rex). Def Leppard owned the term “hard rock” in the ‘80s. Pyromania launched them into the stratosphere of popularity, on the propulsion of songs like “Photograph” and “Die Hard The Hunter.” Def Leppard tied themselves to the mast of the then-new MTV, as it sailed the musical seas, and they never looked back. Okay, what does this have to do with this day in rock history? Well, kiddoes, on this day in 1984, Rick Allen, Leppard’s shirtless drummer extraordinaire, flipped his car going around a corner at very, very high speeds and, in the ensuing crash, lost his arm. Well, he didn’t actually lose it. It was found in the field by paramedics. Ewww. They even reattached it. Okay, that's cool. Then they sawed it off again due to infection. Double ewwww. Man, way to mess with a guy, doctor dudes. Kinda like the ol’ “I got yer nose” trick people play with kids, except they were doing it with a guy’s arm, and they weren’t pretending. Anyhoo, Allen didn’t give up the drumming gig and went on to help Def Leppard close out the ‘80s by drumming (with a special kit, of course) on Hysteria, the equally popular follow-up to Pyromania, which featured the best stripper song ever, “Pour Some Sugar On Me.” Man, we love that song. Thanks for not giving upon music, Rick.
12.23: Yes, he's still alive, to this very day. Eddie Vedder joined us on this day, the eve of Christmas Eve, in 1964, not quite ready to lead the charge from Seattle that would impale the music world with the grunge. Grunge. Grunge. Say it again. Grunge. If you weren't there or weren't paying attention at the time or were too old or too young to care, grunge came like a tornado, destroying the '80s L.A. hair metal scene (Poison, L.A. Guns, Ratt, etc.) seemingly in a single pass, showing the L.A. poseurs for the rock wannabes they really were, their music for the insipidness it belched out on a regular basis. Vedder's band, Pearl Jam, tore out of Seattle, along with Nirvana, Soundgarden, Temple Of The Dog, Mudhoney, Screaming Trees, and Alice In Chains, in 1991, taking the music world to task, ruling rock radio for a few short years, showing the world what's up. Actually, all the Seattle bands really wanted to do was make music, to channel their creative energies into something meaningful to themselves and a few other people. That the entire country (kinda) got what they were doing attests not only to their prescience, but to the universality, at the time, of what they were doing. Namely, melding metal with punk with alternative rock, writing lyrics based on their lives, their hard lives, their disenfranchised Generation-X attitude, and, generally, just being genuine. This isn't to say that all Seattle music espoused this thinking or that every "grunge" band adhered to anything even remotely like this categorization, but the label stuck to many bands that didn't make it past the times and is still heavily associated with Seattle. The term "grunge" disappeared almost as fast as it emerged. Pearl Jam, though, is still alive, to this very day, lead by a fearless and insanely, extremely talented musician who goes by the name Vedder. Eddie Vedder. Happy Birthday, Eddie.
Hard Rock Rocksino Northfield Park Opened Its Doors On Dec. 18, 2013
Orlando, Fla. – Dec. 18, 2013 – Hard Rock International – owner of one of the world’s most recognized, iconic brands celebrated the official grand opening of Hard Rock Rocksino Northfield Park in Northeast Ohio on Dec. 18, 2013. The first of its kind, Hard Rock Rocksino Northfield Park unveiled the newest Hard Rock International property, but also its latest gaming brand, the “Rocksino.” Guests enjoyed “behind the velvet rope” access to the legendary guitar smash, which marks the opening of every hotel, casino and cafe worldwide, as well as a special performance by the award-winning Joan Jett and The Blackhearts. “We are thrilled to continue expanding the Hard Rock gaming brand with our newest venture, the Rocksino,” said Jim Allen, chairman of Hard Rock International. “With fine execution, high quality service, classic Hard Rock vibe and custom memorabilia, we look forward to providing an incredible entertainment experience for guests and Hard Rock fans worldwide.”
Did you know? Hard Rock has the best burgers in the world. They're legendary. Hence, the name: The Legendary Burger. We've been serving the best burgers around, since 1971. Believe it. Isaac Tigrett and Peter Morton, two American ex-pats, craved a taste of home while living in London, so they brought their old home to, well, their new home. When Hard Rock Cafe opened its very first location, in London, on June 14, 1971, they didn't know that 40+ years later their creations would be legendary and considered by discerning eaters everywhere the best burger in the world!
12.16: A genuine electronic music superstar, Paul Van Dyk, joined us on this day in 1971. East Berlin (yes, kids, Berlin, and Germany, was divided between east and west for many, many years) had no idea the talent in their midst. After the fall of the Berlin Wall, and the subsequent flood of talent, money, and good times into Berlin, Van Dyke began what would evolve into his career. Now one of the most recognized DJs in the world, Van Dyk regularly commands high-dollar for only a few hours on the decks. Though not as popular in the U.S., DJs and electronic music draws thousands upon thousands to events all over the rest of the world. PvD, as his fans call him, tops the electronic charts and is consistently named top DJ by peers and fans, alike. Fröhlichen Geburtstag, Paul!
12.18: Keith Richards, one of rock's greatest guitar players and biggest personalities, loves this day. In 1943, his screams filled the room as he took his first of many breaths, making his parents proud, for sure, as their one and only child. Also on this day, on Keith's 40th birthday, he married model Patti Hansen, to whom he is still married, 25 years later. That totally blows away our faith in the rocker-model-celebrity dating/marriage system of "use 'em and lose 'em." Thanks a lot, Keith and Patti. Now nothing makes sense. Anyhoo, we'd like to congratulate Keith on his 68th birthday and Patti and Keith on their 28th wedding anniversary. Hazah!
Hard Rock recently sat down with Chris "Ludacris" Bridges, international hip-hop icon and one of the stars of the insanely popular Fast & Furious movie series, to talk about music, movies, and life. Let's let the interview speak for itself!
Check out everything Ludacris right here: http://www.ludaversal.com/
Own FAST & FURIOUS 6 now on Blu-ray™, DVD & Digital HD! Vin Diesel, the late Paul Walker, Dwayne Johnson and Michelle Rodriguez lead a cast of returning all-stars in this global blockbuster franchise. A portion of proceeds will benefit Paul Walker’s Reach Out Worldwide charity. Theatrical version RATED PG-13. Extended Edition NOT RATED. Only from Universal Studios Home Entertainment. http://www.thefastandfurious.com
HARD ROCK: Why do you think so many hip hop icons have been so successful as actors? Is there something in the nature of hip hop as an art form that prepares emcees to work in film? LUDACRIS: (laughs) I don’t think it’s necessarily just hip hop, I just think it’s entertainers, period… I think half the battle of acting comes in the form of being comfortable on camera – in front of cameras while there’s a thousand people staring at you while you’re doing what you have to do. You’re kind of placing yourself in a world where it’s all about the craft. So with that being said, that’s why I feel it’s an easier transition so to speak because acting is a whole ‘nother story. It’s not like anybody who’s an entertainer can act, but there’s two elements to acting – 1) being able to act and 2) being able to be comfortable and block out what’s going on and that there’s a camera and thousand people in your face. HR: This is a bit of a cliché question, but it’s important. Coming up, who were the emcees and artists that had the biggest impact on your development?
LUDACRIS: I’m inspired by a lot of different people, man! If I had to name some off the top of my head, actor-wise, I’d say Jeffrey Wright is really underrated. He’s one of my favorite actors.
12.10: Otis Redding, one of the greatest soul singers ever, died on this day in 1967, when his plane crashed into a lake in Wisconsin. It's so hard to imagine that he was only 26. 26! Wow, that just blows our mind, as Otis' voice and lyrics exuded those of an elder statesman, those of a wise, old soul. For real, pick up Otis Blue or The Dock Of The Bay, sit back, and just listen. That isn't just a man singing. That is a soul singing. That is a voice you will not hear again, ever. One-of-a-kind, Otis carried the mantle passed on by the immortal Sam Cooke. The singer's singer, Otis recorded what would become his one and only #1 hit, "(Sittin' On) The Dock Of The Bay," just three days before his death. We love this song. We whistle this song in the shower. Otis is the man. Sing on, Otis, sing on. 12.11: Why do the good one's die so young? Sam Cooke, soul music pioneer and writer of one of the greatest protest songs to emerge from the restless '60s, "A Change Is Gonna Come," died under very mysterious circumstances at a hotel in L.A. on this day in 1964, at the age of 33. Shot by the hotel's manager, an older woman who claimed self-defense, Cooke's presence in her office has been disputed since that time. The manager claimed Cooke burst into the office, inebriated and shouting, wearing only an overcoat and shoes, demanding to know the whereabouts of the woman with whom he came to the hotel. That woman claims she'd been held hostage by a drunken and drugged-up Cooke, and that she escaped with her clothes, accidentally grabbing his, as well. However, that this woman was later arrested for prostitution suggests that she found herself in that hotel room of her own volition, perhaps, as some suggest, intending to rob Cooke. Some in his family and friends, however, claim a conspiracy in his death, that injuries observed at the funeral home were not consistent with gunfire. This weird and tragic end to Cooke's life does nothing, though, to diminish his impact upon the burgeoning soul sound. That he did not live to see its true fruition is a tragedy unto itself, but we love Sam for planting those seeds.