As we celebrate what would’ve been the King of Rock and Roll’s 80th birthday, it’s easy to forget that Elvis Presley was once not regarded as a music legend and pop culture icon. In fact, he was initially received by many as a lewd, hip-swinging, even talentless hack threatening everything good about American music. (Perhaps the Justin Bieber of his day?)
Tag: In Memoriam (1-10 of 329)
That Joe Cocker made it to 70 probably would have surprised the people who knew him when. Back in the ’70s in particular, the singer was known nearly as well for his hard living as the raspy, rough-edged voice that was his signature. That voice—permanently hoarse, achingly soulful—sounded pained even in the best of times for the man who possessed it.
Joe Cocker spent most of his nearly six-decade career as an interpreter of other people’s songs, first coming to the attention of the record-buying public with a transformative reimagining of The Beatles’ “With a Little Help from My Friends.” In Cocker’s hands, the enjoyable but slight Sgt. Pepper’s track was almost unrecognizable—a British pop song reimagined as American soul music, Liverpool by way of Memphis. When Cocker and his Grease Band closed their afternoon set at Woodstock with it—the first set of the festival’s last full day—it would go down as one of the most memorable performances at a festival that had more than its share of them. READ FULL STORY
Sunday, on what would have been Amy Winehouse’s 31st birthday, the late singer’s parents unveiled a statue in the London borough of Camden honoring her life.
“It’s a day of incredibly mixed emotions,” Winehouse’s father, Mitch Winehouse, told The Guardian. “They don’t put statues up for people who are with us anymore, so it reinforces the fact that physically she’s gone, but spiritually she’ll never leave us.” Winehouse died in 2011 from accidental alcohol poisoning. READ FULL STORY
Soul star Bobby Womack died at age 70 on Friday, his label XL Recordings announced.
Famed for songs including “Across 110th Street,” “If You Think You’re Lonely Now,” “Lookin’ for a Love,” and “Woman’s Gotta Have It” — he also penned the Rolling Stones’ first no. 1 hit, “It’s All Over Now” — he was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2009.
The songwriter Gerry Goffin, who alongside former wife Carole King wrote some of the most indelible songs of the ’60s, died of natural causes early Thursday morning at his home in Los Angeles. He was 75.
Goffin and King began their songwriting team soon after they were married in 1959, working out of New York City’s legendary Brill Building, which housed a number of influential songwriters (as well as musicians, producers, and assorted music industry professionals), who churned out hit songs at a factory-like pace in the years between rock and roll’s first wave of popularity and the rise of album-oriented radio in the ’70s. The Goffin-King credit appeared beside some of the era’s biggest hits, including “The Loco-Motion,” “Take Good Care of My Baby,” “Some Kind of Wonderful,” and “Will You Love Me Tomorrow,” the pair’s first No. 1 hit and most frequently recorded song. READ FULL STORY
In the new issue of Entertainment Weekly, I ruminate over the anniversary of the death of one of the last great rock stars with a simple question: Had he not died in April 1994, what might Kurt Cobain’s music have sounded like now?
In order to find some possible answers, I talked to Cobain’s friends and collaborators about his potential musical directions; the master playlist craftspeople at Beats Audio took those cues and built a batch of songs that help extrapolate what Cobain might have sounded like had he lived.
“Cobain always seemed like an old soul and I agree that he would have continued to explore more acoustic music, as opposed to electric,” says Beats’ Scott Plagenhoef. “He wrote personal lyrics but they were opaque and non-linear and he never wrote narratives. There is also a temptation to assume major creative forces like Cobain would remain progressive into their older age but the fact of the matter is that was never a quality that he displayed even during his lifetime. There is no indication he would have embraced electronic music, for example.”
The playlist includes a handful of tracks that seem like inevitable Cobain compositions (Elliott Smith’s “Waltz No. 2 (XO),” Wilco’s “How To Fight Loneliness,” The White Stripes’ “We’re Going To Be Friends”), as well as some reasonable stretches (EMA’s “California,” Cat Power’s “He War,” Lambchop’s “My Face Your Ass”). Spin the whole thing here while you consider what might have been.
What do you think Kurt Cobain would have sounded like in 2014? Let us know in the comments.
Pete Seeger, the iconic folk singer who dedicated his decades-long career to using music to fight for peace and justice for all, died Jan. 27 at New York Presbyterian Hospital. He was 94.
Beginning in the 1940s, Seeger played an instrumental role in the rise of folk music as a popular form. On his own and as a member of the Weavers, the banjo-playing New Yorker followed in the footsteps of legends like Woody Guthrie, bringing traditional songs sung by common Americans to a wider audience as well as composing soon-to-be-classic original tunes like “If I Had a Hammer.” Seeger became a nationwide star in 1950 when the Weavers’ cover of Leadbelly’s “Goodnight, Irene” became a No. 1 smash.
Yet Seeger’s blossoming career was nearly cut short forever in 1955 when he refused to testify before Sen. Joseph McCarthy’s notorious House Un-American Activities Committee about his associations with the leftist movement. Seeger’s subsequent blacklisting severely limited his ability to make a living through music. Seeger didn’t give up in the face of such crude intimidation, though — not then, not ever. Instead, he redoubled his musical activism, working hard to rally fellow citizens in support of labor unions and civil rights. READ FULL STORY
Phil Everly, who, along with his brother Don, made up the musical duo The Everly Brothers, died Friday in Burbank, Calif. due to chronic obstructive pulmonary disease according to a report in the Los Angeles Times. He was 74 years old.
The Everly Brothers rose to prominence in the late 1950s and early ’60s and created classic hits such as “All I Have to Do Is Dream,” “Bye Bye Love,” and “When Will I Be Loved.”
Everly was born in Chicago on Jan. 19, 1939, and moved across the country with his very musical family during his childhood. He had a brief solo career in the ’70s before reuniting with his brother for a concert in London in 1983. The two were among the first inductees at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1986.
Don, who is two years older than Phil, is still living.
More to come…
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