We lost the man who made “The Frost.” It’s a sad day for classic Rock and Roll in Michigan.
It was a final medical battle Dick Wagner couldn’t win.
Wagner, the Michigan-bred guitarist renowned for his work with Alice Cooper, the Frost, Lou Reed and others, died this morning in Scottsdale, Ariz. He was 71.
Wagner succumbed to respiratory failure at Scottsdale Healthcare Shea Medical Center, where he had been in intensive care for the past two weeks following a cardiac procedure.
The guitarist had famously overcome a series of medical issues during the past decade, retraining himself on guitar after a stroke paralyzed his left arm. He re-emerged to begin recording, writing and performing gigs, including a triumphant homecoming concert at the Magic Bag in November 2011.
Wagner was born in Iowa, moved with his family to Waterford as a child, and later settled in Saginaw. He was a key figure in southeastern Michigan’s emergent rock scene in the 1960s, a go-to guitarist who made his name with the Bossmen and the Frost.
He was eventually recruited by Alice Cooper for the milestone 1972 album “Welcome to My Nightmare,” and went on to A-list session work with the likes of Reed, Peter Gabriel and Rod Stewart. Rock lore has long held that Wagner was a secret hired hand on albums by several high-profile bands.
There has been a great deal of talk and hype about Led Zeppelin doing a reunion tour — and Robert Plant is having none of it.
It’s been nearly seven years since the show at the 02, and the topic of Zeppelin’s aborted tour still rankles Plant, who has come to a pub near his North London home to talk about the group’s new series of archival release. As explains himself his decision to not tour with Zeppelin, he leans forward with menace, and his eyes nearly double in size. “You’re going back to the same old shit,” he says. “A tour would have been an absolute menagerie of vested interests and the very essence of everything that’s shitty about about big-time stadium rock. We were surrounded by a circus of people that would have had our souls on the fire. I’m not part of a jukebox!”
Nearly all of Plant’s peers are happy to deal with such a circus considering the insane financial rewards. “Good luck to them,” he sneers. “I hope they’re having a real riveting and wonderful late middle age. Somehow I don’t think they are.”
Needless to say, Jimmy Page has a very different take on the situation. “There’s bound to be fallout if you just do one show,” he says. “At the time of the 02 show we were led to believe there were going to be more. You’ll have to ask Robert why he changed his mind. I don’t even know if he considered it. I don’t know what he thinks.”
I hate to say it, but, I do get Robert Plant’s point. He is simply not interested in cashing in on Led Zeppelin’s legendary status.
One thing people have to understand about Led Zeppelin is this: By 1980, when Led Zeppelin’s drummer, John Bonham died the band was basically running on the vapors of a different era. Jimmy Page was doing heroin, John Bonham was going on drinking binges that would last for days. Now Robert Plant and John Paul Jones were living totally different lives; as they were totally sober and trying to be in a band. This lead to friction in the band. This was further compounded when Robert Plant’s five year old son Karac died of a stomach infection. Jimmy Page nor John Paul Jones showed up for the funeral. This angered Plant greatly.
Plus too, and this is the part that nobody really talks about anymore, but it’s the truth; by 1980, Led Zeppelin sounded, well, dated. By 1980, Zeppelin sounded like, well, the 1970’s and young people of that era had moved on. The young people of the 1980’s were listening to punk and new wave. The ones of listened to rock and roll, had found other bands to listen to, seeing that Led Zeppelin was taking forever to release records. So, a bit of their fan base had been peeled off. So, by 1980, Led Zeppelin was seen largely as a novelty act.
Please Note: I do not write the following as a critic, but as someone who really liked Bonham’s drumming and am saddened that Bonham died the way he did and as a grandson of a man, who was a working alcoholic who tragically died really young:
As a drummer, I feel that I can say this: The only reason Led Zeppelin was what they were, is because of John Bonham’s drumming; this is why they did not attempt to replace him, after he died. The other guys were great musicians, but Bonham’s drumming rounded out and really made that sound. Bonham’s own son does not even remotely sound like him at all. Not only that, but even Bonham’s drumming sound was the result of some old school studio trickery and careful editing of tape; especially in the later years, as the use of alcohol began to cause his drumming ability to suffer. In his later years, Bonham’s inability to do “triplets” was very obvious. Bonham never lost timing, that I’ve ever heard; but his later drumming was not nearly that of his young years. When Bonham was sober, he played well. When he was drunk, he was awful. Bonham, when drunk, would become verbally abusive towards the other band members; this is clear in the intro of one of John Bonham’s isolated tracks of “Fool in the rain.” Bonham could not even count off a song to start a session take without making a mistake.
My point is this: Robert Plant simply does not want to go back to that place again; and quite frankly, I do not blame him one bit.
President Kennedy was a transformational leader, and it’s hard to imagine what it felt like to hear of his assassination 50 years ago today. Kennedy was shot as the Boston Symphony Orchestra was about to begin its regular Friday afternoon concert. When word of his death reached the hall a few minutes later, the audience was already seated, oblivious to the world-changing events happening in Dallas.
In a powerful — and stunningly level-headed — decision, the orchestra’s music director, Erich Leinsdorf, sent librarian William Shisler to get the music for the funeral march from Beethoven’s “Eroica” symphony. Shisler quickly distributed the music onstage, letting the musicians know what had happened.
This recording, from WGBH in Boston, begins when Leinsdorf takes the stage to announce the terrible news to the audience and captures the BSO’s heart-rending performance of the Beethoven symphony — a work they found out they were playing only minutes before.
This is stunning. Also too, consider this an exception to the new rule.
What I know him for…:
Lou Reed, a massively influential songwriter and guitarist who helped shape nearly fifty years of rock music, died today. The cause of his death has not yet been released, but Reed underwent a liver transplant in May.
A high school in Indiana decided recently to ban the classic country song “Rocky Top” from football games because its references to “moonshine” are supposedly “politically incorrect,” as WNDU.com puts it.
Indiana High School Bans Classic Country Song at Games Because It’s…Politically Incorrect?
“We have a hard time seeing how we can continue to let our whole school body, student body celebrate to a song that’s about alcohol,” said Plymouth School Superintendent Dan Tyree, who is responsible for the ban. — Source
This is for Linda Ronstadt, who is fighting for her life. Fight like hell woman!
Legendary singer Linda Ronstadt, 67, told AARP today that she “can’t sing a note” because she suffers from Parkinson’s disease. Diagnosed eight months ago, Ronstadt began to show symptoms as long as eight years ago. But she ascribed her inability to sing to a tick bite (“my health has never recovered since then”), and believed the shaking in her hands resulted from shoulder surgery.
In a wide-ranging interview with AARP’s music writer Alanna Nash to be published on aarp.org next week, Ronstadt revealed how she discovered that “there was something wrong” with her voice.
“I couldn’t sing,” she told Nash, “and I couldn’t figure out why. I knew it was mechanical. I knew it had to do with the muscles, but I thought it might have also had something to do with the tick disease that I had. And it didn’t occur to me to go to a neurologist. I think I’ve had it for seven or eight years already, because of the symptoms that I’ve had. Then I had a shoulder operation, so I thought that’s why my hands were trembling.
“Parkinson’s is very hard to diagnose, so when I finally went to a neurologist and he said, ‘Oh, you have Parkinson’s disease,’ I was completely shocked. I wouldn’t have suspected that in a million, billion years.
“No one can sing with Parkinson’s disease,” Ronstadt said. “No matter how hard you try.”
Ronstadt walks with the aid of poles when on uneven ground, and uses a wheelchair when she travels.
Alvin Lee, the guitarist and singer of Ten Years After, has died.
A statement posted on his official website read: “With great sadness we have to announce that Alvin unexpectedly passed away early this morning after unforseen complications following a routine surgical procedure.
“We have lost a wonderful and much loved father and companion, the world has lost a truly great and gifted musician.” — More at Music Radar
Ravi Shankar, the Indian sitarist and composer whose collaborations with Western classical musicians as well as rock stars helped foster a worldwide appreciation of India’s traditional music, died Tuesday in a hospital near his home in Southern California. He was 92.
Mr. Shankar had suffered from upper respiratory and heart ailments in the last year and underwent heart-valve replacement surgery last Thursday, his family said in a statement.
Mr. Shankar, a soft-spoken, eloquent man whose performance style embodied a virtuosity that transcended musical languages, was trained in both Eastern and Western musical traditions. Although Western audiences were often mystified by the odd sounds and shapes of the instruments when he began touring in Europe and the United States in the early 1950s, Mr. Shankar and his ensemble gradually built a large following for Indian music.
His instrument, the sitar, has a small rounded body and a long neck with a resonating gourd at the top. It has 6 melody strings and 25 sympathetic strings (which are not played but resonate freely as the other strings are plucked). Sitar performances are partly improvised, but the improvisations are strictly governed by a repertory of ragas (melodic patterns representing specific moods, times of day, seasons of the year or events) and talas (intricate rhythmic patterns) that date back several millenniums.
Mr. Shankar’s quest for a Western audience was helped in 1965 when George Harrison of the Beatles began to study the sitar with him. But Harrison was not the first Western musician to seek Mr. Shankar’s guidance. In 1952 he met and began performing with the violinist Yehudi Menuhin, with whom he made three recordings for EMI: “West Meets East” (1967), “West Meets East, Vol. 2” (1968) and “Improvisations: East Meets West” (1977).
Mr. Shankar loved to mix the music of different cultures. He collaborated with the flutist Jean-Pierre Rampal and the jazz saxophonist and composer John Coltrane, who had become fascinated with Indian music and philosophy in the early ’60s. Coltrane met with Mr. Shankar several times from 1964 to 1966 to learn the basics of ragas, talas and Indian improvisation techniques. Coltrane named his son Ravi after Mr. Shankar. — New York Times
I will not lie to my readers, Jazz is really not my thing. I am a rock and roller. However, I always show mad respect to the great ones in music. Jazz is an American thing, and we invented it, and people overseas wanted to sound like us. This was back, when America was a great Nation and people around the world wanted to be like us.
Enjoy the music:
Dave Brubeck, the pianist and composer who helped make jazz popular again in the 1950s and ’60s with recordings like “Time Out,” the first jazz album to sell a million copies, and “Take Five,” the still instantly recognizable hit single that was that album’s centerpiece, died on Wednesday in Norwalk, Conn. He would have turned 92 on Thursday.
He died while on his way to a cardiology appointment, Russell Gloyd, his producer, conductor and manager for 36 years, said. Mr. Brubeck lived in Wilton, Conn.
In a long and successful career, Mr. Brubeck brought a distinctive mixture of experimentation and accessibility that won over listeners who had been trained to the sonic dimensions of the three-minute pop single.
Mr. Brubeck experimented with time signatures and polytonality and explored musical theater and the oratorio, baroque compositional devices and foreign modes. He did not always please the critics, who often described his music as schematic, bombastic and — a word he particularly disliked — stolid. But his very stubbornness and strangeness — the blockiness of his playing, the oppositional push-and-pull between his piano and Paul Desmond’s alto saxophone — make the Brubeck quartet’s best work still sound original.
Outside of the group’s most famous originals, which had the charm and durability of pop songs ( “Blue Rondo à la Turk,” “It’s a Raggy Waltz” and “Take Five”), some of its best work was in its overhauls of standards like “You Go to My Head,” “All the Things You Are” and “Pennies From Heaven.” — Source