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by Mike Breen 03.14.2012
Posted In: Music History at 12:54 PM | Permalink | Comments (0)
 
 
sgt.pepper

This Date in Music History: March 14

The Beatles' 'Sgt. Pepper's' shoot and where have all the novelty songs gone?

On this day in 2001, British Pop Art legend Sir Peter Blake sued EMI for more money for his work on a 1967 album cover. That cover is not only his most well-known piece of art — it's also one of the most well-known album covers in history. Blake and wife Jann Haworth created the collaged crowd scene on the cover of The Beatles' Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band. And they were paid about $350 for their trouble, according to Blake's suit.

The cover included cultural icons from Stan Laurel, Mae West, Lenny Bruce and Tony Curtis to Aldous Huxley, Dylan Thomas, Bob Dylan, Carl Jung and Shirley Temple. The use of their likenesses reportedly so scared the label (which feared major lawsuits from the "celebrities"), they had to try and seek permission (whenever possible) for use.

Lennon's (possibly joking) suggestion of having Hitler, Gandhi and Jesus represented on the cover also didn't go over well with the label. Gandhi was featured on the original cover, but was removed because it wouldn't be carried in India. Jesus didn't make the cut at all, coming so soon after Lennon's infamous claims of The Beatles being more famous than Him. Hitler was believed to have been edited out, though Blake recently revealed that if you look carefully, Adolf is obscured behind the Fab Four and Tarzan actor Johnny Weissmuller. Actor Leo Gorcey (one of the Bowery Boys) reportedly wanted $400 for his appearance on the cover — $50 more than what the artists' received for making it — so he was promptly axed from the pic. And Mexican actor/comedian Tin-Tan respectfully declined and asked that a "Tree of Life" be included in his place (it was, featured in the lower right corner).

Here's a good run down of the others that did make the cut. And check out this video montage of outtakes from the famous photo shoot:

Click on for Born This Day featuring Rick Dees and the death of the American novelty tune.

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by Mike Breen 08.30.2013
Posted In: Local Music, Music History, Live Music at 11:11 AM | Permalink | Comments (0)
 
 
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Celebrating Cincy's Music Heritage Tonight (and Beyond)

Numerous events set to honor historically crucial Cincinnati musical institutions of the past

Tonight in Cincinnati, you can explore the state of local music at any number of area venues featuring local talent. You can also explore Cincinnati's important musical history at events set to celebrate and honor its rich legacy.

• At the site of the former Herzog recording studios (811 Race St., Downtown, also home to CityBeat), the Cincinnati USA Music Heritage Foundation (which is now headquartered in the old Herzog studio's space) is throwing a dinner party this evening to mark the 64th anniversary of music legend Hank Williams' second (and last) sessions at Herzog. Williams recorded a handful of songs in Cincinnati at Herzog that helped launch him into music superstardom, including "I'm So Lonesome I Could Cry," "Lovesick Blues," "Lost On The River," "House Without Love," "I Just Don't Like This Kind Of Living" and "My Bucket's Got a Hole In It." (Click here for more background on Herzog.)

Tonight's event at Herzog — dubbed Bucky Herzog's Legacy Hour — will get you dinner from Eli's BBQ  and drinks at 7 p.m., plus a reception at 9 p.m.

The juicy stuff's in the middle — a collection of local musicians will be performing/recording those eight famous Williams' tunes from the second session in the same spot they were originally recorded.

The music starts at 8 p.m. and the show is being presented like an old-fashioned radio hour. Edwin Vardiman hosts and performs those classic songs with Arlo McKinley and several of his talented friends from the area Roots music scene, including Timothy Carr, Tyler Lockard, Moriah Haven Lawson, Sarah Davis, Sylvia Mitchell and Kelly Thomas.

Making it even more like an old-timey radio show broadcast — it will actually be broadcast live (though through the internet's series of tubes) for those who can't make it. The first 30 minutes of the show will be streamed live through StageIt here. Head there now to grab a ticket — for a $5 donation to the Music Heritage Foundation (also the beneficiary of the live tonight), you will receive a free download of the entire performance.

Bucky Herzog's Legacy Hour is open to music lovers of all ages. Admission is $25 at the door. Visit the Cincinnati USA Music Heritage Foundation's site here for more info (or to become a member, which you can also do tonight).

• This September marks the 70th anniversary of the launch of King Records, the Cincinnati-based label that, for 30 years, released some revolutionary records in a variety of genres, including titles from James Brown, The Stanley Brothers, Hank Ballard, Tiny Bradshaw and Wynonie Harris. Founded by Cincinnatian Syd Nathan (who was posthumously inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1997), the label is widely credited as a pioneer of laying the foundation for Rock & Roll, releasing music by both black and white artists and putting out high-quality R&B and Country/Bluegrass artists.

The label’s legacy has gradually gotten more attention over the past couple of decades and, especially locally, hardcore music fans have loudly trumpeted King’s historical significance.

The original building still stands in Evanston (dilapidated but marked with a historical marker) and Xavier University (plus numerous boosters) is making plans for King Studios in the neighborhood. The “experiential learning” community center is set to feature interactive displays about King’s history, a recording studio (for local musicians to record and others to use for learning opportunities) and a community arts center providing visual art classes and more.  

The label’s 70th anniversary month is loaded with events throughout the city — from author visits, music and exhibits at Cincinnati library's main branch downtown to numerous King-related concerts and activities around the city.

Here's a short documentary about King Records, made Matt Peiken and posted online today at King Studios' site:


Tonight, King Records Month launches with a free reception at the Evanston Recreation Center, running 4-7 p.m., where the public can learn more about King Records and King Studios.

From 6-8 p.m. tonight, MOTR Pub in Over-the-Rhine hosts the opening of Royal Plastics: King Records Album Art, a very cool concept for a King-centric photo show.  

The exhibit — named for King's separate company set up to manufacture music releases, Royal Plastics — was conceived by local music historian Brian Powers, who works for the city's library, a big reason the main branch has so many King events this month (and has long been illuminating visitors about Cincy's musical past).

Powers had begun to collect King releases on vinyl when he noticed that several were obviously shot in Greater Cincinnati. Powers reached out to accomplished local photographers John Curley and Michael Wilson to assist and signed up several local musicians — including Bobby Mackey, Jake Speed and Buggs Tha Rocka — to star in "re-shoots" of the vintage covers, mimicking the original front of several of King's old releases.

For the full run-down of King Records Month events, taken from the King Studios' site, click below the fold. Be sure visit kingstudios.org for full details.

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by Mike Breen 04.09.2012
 
 
rem-michael-stipe-02

This Date in Music History: April 9

R.E.M. release sophmore album and Carl Perkins' would've-been 80th birthday

On this date in 1984, Athens, Ga., "College Rock" favorites R.E.M. released its second album, the fantastic Reckoning. The album — featuring the singles "So. Central Rain" and "(Don't Go Back to) Rockville" — was well before the band reached superstar status. The band were pretty big for a cult band, but it wasn't until 1988's Green that R.E.M. became worldwide Rock stars (and only got bigger after that).

Green will be the subject of an upcoming local benefit for Northside's Building Value, Inc. Following BVI's annual fundraiser, ReUse-apalooza, on April 27, Cincinnati rockers Messerly & Ewing will head up a Green tribute concert at the Northside Tavern at 10 p.m. The Messerly & Ewing band will become a Rockestra that night, joined by several local musicians as they play the seminal AltRock album, including Jazz pianist Chris Comer, singer/songwriter Mike Fair and members of The Ass Ponys, Wussy, Seven Speed Vortex and Eagle to Squirrel. The show will also include a raffle of R.E.M. merch and memorabilia, donated by the band thanks to a friend of M&E's from the R.E.M. camp. Keep an eye on M&E's Facebook page for updates.

And since we're talking about two great R.E.M. albums, enjoy a song from both below.





Click on for Born This Day featuring Gerald Way, Hal Ketchum and Carl Perkins.

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by Mike Breen 03.20.2012
Posted In: Music History at 08:37 AM | Permalink | Comments (1)
 
 
dixie

This Date in Music History: March 20

Wrong Right attacks right Dixie Chicks and a tribute to Lee "Scratch" Perry

On this day in 2003, the Iraq war quagmire began. Depending on where you stand and your perspective of "facts," the war was a) a huge mistake based on fabricated information, b) a nobly-intentioned-attack-turned-Bush-administration-blooper ("Whoops, sorry!"), or c) a perfectly reasonable military operation that spread democracy and made Toby Keith a billionaire.

It is estimated the war has killed well over 100,000 Iraqi civilians and displaced over 2 million. Our government claims that 4,422 Americans have died as a result of Operation Iraqi Freedom (and over 31,000 have been injured).

The South Carolina State Legislature marked the beginning of the war by attacking a Country music trio. State Rep. Catherine Ceips introduced a resolution that commanded the Dixie Chicks to apologize to President Bush for daring to say in front of an audience in London that they were embarrassed to be from the same state (Texas) as W.

Chick Natalie Maines DID apologize a week before, saying she should not have been disrespectful to the Prez. But it apparently didn't matter and the Chicks became another tool used to raise support for the war. In an interview with Tom Brokaw a month later, Bush said that the group members had a right to say what they wanted. But, "I don't really care what the Dixie Chicks said. I want to do what I think is right for the American people." Whoopsie.

Despite Bush being the one proved wrong, no one EVER apologized to the Dixie Chicks, who lost a substantial amount of money due to the ginned-up controversy.

On that same day, Bruce Springsteen played a concert in Australia and dedicated "Land of Hope and Dreams" to "innocent Iraqi civilians." He opened the show with his stunning acoustic version of "Born in the U.S.A.," followed by a cover of Edwin Starr's "War (What Is It Good For)."

Click on for Born This Day featuring Chester Bennington, Natacha Atlas, Jerry Reed and Lee "Scratch" Perry.

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by Mike Breen 07.30.2012
Posted In: Music Commentary, Music History at 09:02 AM | Permalink | Comments (0)
 
 
hank_williams

Ridin' With Hank & Other Summer Vacation Hits

All roadtrips are musical — if you're looking and listening for it

My life usually has a musical component, so it's not shocking that my vacations have many musical memories inexorably tied to the trips. I'm sure most music lovers have had similar experiences.

My family went to Washington, D.C., every 4th of July for many years when I was growing up and The Beach Boys always played a free concert next to the Washington monument. These late ’70s/early ’80s gigs are what I've always considered my first concerts. The memories are vague but deeply entrenched. I'll never forgive my folks for not letting me watch opener Joan Jett (at her "I Love Rock & Roll" peak). I was about 11. And I was pissed!

I have many amazing Lollapalooza road trips memories, from the first-tour Cleveland stop in 1991 when fans charged the gates as Nine Inch Nails played an early set to getting seriously beaten by bouncers (then evicted from the premises) after telling them not to be dicks during my trip to Indy for the Beastie Boys/Smashing Pumpkins headlining year (1994). I also had a personal rebirth on a trip to the standalone Lolla in 2007, feeling inspired by seeing Amy Winehouse, Iggy Pop and the Stooges and Patti Smith under the mammoth Chicago skyline.

But many musical vacations aren't concert related, nor intentionally "musical." I vividly remember "Rhinestone Cowboy" being played on the radio nonstop during a trip to Atlanta as a child. If I hear that song now I can think of nothing but being 6 or 7 years old, flopping around in our un-air-conditioned, early ’70s VW  bug's cubby hole, the small compartment between the backseat and the engine. We not only didn't wear seatbelts or sit in carseats back then — we were allowed to play in literally the most dangerous spot in the tiny death trap.

I remember an L.A. trip the month the Beastie Boys dropped Check You Head. I played it nonstop on a Walkman and arrived in Los Angeles to discover everyone dressed exactly like Adam, Mike and Adam. I found the summertime wearing of winter hats hilarious. It seemed all based on one music video and an album cover.

That same trip I developed a supernatural bond with Jane's Addiction's Nothing's Shocking and Smashing Pumpkins' Gish. I listened to both several times on that trusty Walkman as I sat alone on a Pacific Coast beach, mesmerized by the moon's reflection on the vast, dark ocean mirror, the sound of waves crashing perfectly in time with the music's hypnotic psychedelics, just figuring my life philosophy out, scared but excited for whatever the future held.

I've had some great odd music-related coincidences on summer trips, as well. As I giddily drove over the horizon on my summer journey to New York City to intern for several months with an editor and caught my first glimpse of the always jaw-dropping skyline of Manhattan, the dance remix version of "Miles Iz Dead" by personal hometown heroes of mine, The Afghan Whigs, just happened to come on the terrestrial radio station to which we were listening. It would be the no-brainer soundtrack selection had it been a scene in the movie of my life.

My vacation from which I just returned, a trip to the deepest-south Alabama, was filled with several interesting coincidences, all related to a single, singular musical icon, a fascinating man I learn more about every day.

I only connected the dots when I got home. Had my memorial trail actually been evident to me as I journeyed along, I would have explored more, to connect even more dots.

As it stands, it was a fun if inadvertent adventure, even in hindsight. An accidental pilgrimage of sorts.

Gradually, I pieced together evidence Hank Williams spirit-guided me on my recent trip:

1) Drove through Butler County, Ala., and saw signs for Mount Olive, birthplace of Hiram Hank Williams, as I later discovered.

2) Drove past Montgomery twice, where Hank cut his teeth and launched his career.

3) Drove a stretch of highway officially dubbed the "Hank Williams Memorial Lost Highway."

4) Admired the massive shipyards along the bay in Mobile, where Hank worked during World War II.

5) Held in my hands the heavy vinyl version of the The Lost Notebooks of Hank Williams (2011) compilation in the building headquarters of the record company that released it (Third Man Records in Nashville).

6) Nearly bought a weird old Hank Jr./Hank Sr. split LP at another Nashville record shop and walked past Roy Acuff's record store (where the above photo was apparently taken).

7) Touched and was awestruck by the grandeur of God's Own Listening Room, the Ryman Auditorium, home to the Grand Ole Opry when Hank performed there (and was later banned for life).

8) Roamed Broadway and the alley beside the Ryman where I am fairly certain Hank once frolicked pre- and post-gigs.

9) Walked by the current Country Music Hall of Fame in Nashville. Hank was among the first three artists to be inducted in the Hall's first class of inductees in 1961.

10) Returned to work this morning, seated four floors above where Hank Williams recorded "Lovesick Blues," a crossover smash that cemented Hank's status as a superstar, as well as "I'm So Lonesome I Could Cry" and other classics.

There's a piano down there Hank probably played when he was in town. I think I'd like to go down there, tickle those ivories and see if Hank's ghost wants to hang out and chat for a while.

I do believe these are all merely fun coincidences. Maybe it was all subconsciously strung together to help keep my sobriety in check. Hank's a musical hero of mine, but not a role model. He's a cautionary tale; I am an alcoholic who would likely have met a similar tragic fate as Hank's had I not stopped boozing.

Sometimes great vacations can take you down more than just literal new paths.

But if Hank is my life journey's Sherpa, I'm more than ready. I only insist that he doesn't drink while we're driving; that shit's frowned upon nowadays. And it didn't end well last time.

 
 
by Mike Breen 04.16.2012
Posted In: Music History, Music Video, Music Commentary at 08:22 AM | Permalink | Comments (0)
 
 
paul-mullet

This Date in Music History: April 16

Paul McCartney's 1973 network TV special and Ian MacKaye turns 50

On this day in 1973, Paul McCartney and Wings had their very own network TV special, James Paul McCartney. The variety/musical show was a bit cheeky and a bit sappy — in other words, pretty funny to watch now. Paul and Co. do a bunch a Beatles tunes and a bunch of Wings stuff, including the just released "Live and Let Die." Worth watching (or at least skipping through) if you were a fan of Sir Paul's kick-ass mullet, always wanted to hear a drunk Paul sing drinking songs in a crowded pub or wondered how "The Cute One" looks in a pink tuxedo and mustache.

Paul's most recent adventures in visual entertainment contains a bit more star power:

Click on for Born This Day with Dusty Springfield, Akon and Ian MacKaye.

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by Mike Breen 05.06.2013
 
 
11outabout_herzog_studio_ck

Bus Tour to Visit Cincinnati Music Heritage Landmarks

Deadline to sign-up for first ever music-based Cincinnati Heritage Program is May 7

The Cincinnati Heritage Programs put together by the Cincinnati Museum Center have been going on for over 30 years now, taking locals and visitors to some of the Queen City's most important and/or interesting landmarks. The programs have included historical presentations and bus and walking tours to the various sites.

This year so far, the Cincinnati Heritage Programs have shown and told the stories of radio pioneer Powel Crosley, "Grand Old Theaters" and Cincy local TV legends. This Saturday, the Heritage programmers present "Subway Talk and Walk," a nighttime exploration of Cincinnati's incomplete subway tunnel project.

On May 18, from 9 a.m.-1:30 p.m., the Cincinnati Heritage Programs presents the first ever bus tour of various important (not just to the area, but to the world) musical landmarks.

Dubbed "When the Queen City was King of Recording," the tour focuses primarily on a pair of historic recording studios that churned out records that would change the face of music. The bus will visit the original site of King Records, which released seminal albums from the worlds of Country and R&B, a gateway to the birth of Rock & Roll. The bus will visit the old King location at 1540 Brewster Ave. in Evanston, where city officials, the Cincinnati USA Music Heritage Foundation (CUMHF), the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and others helped have an historical marker installed in 2008 to commemorate King's contributions.

Here's James Brown's first single, recorded with his Famous Flames and
released in 1956 through the King subsidiary, Federal Records:


The tour will also visit the former site of the E.T. Herzog Recording Company, at 811 Race St., downtown. In 2009, the CUMHF and others also lobbied successfully for a marker to placed at the site, which now houses the organization's headquarters. The Foundation has turned the floor the studio once stood into a museum dedicated to the space's history, hosting receptions and recording sessions and showcasing a few artifacts (like the piano Hank Williams played when he was in town to record songs that made him a legend, including "I'm So Lonesome I Could Cry") and lots of old photos of the studio in action. The Music Heritage Foundation is currently hosting the photo exhibit, "Annie's Baby Had a Baby," which was part of the big, citywide Fotofocus photography showcase.



The tour ends with lunch and some live music at the Blue Wisp Jazz Club, a block from the Herzog stop.

The tour costs $60 (or $50 if you're a Museum Center member) and some spots are still open. But you'd better act fast. Deadline to register for the "When the Queen City was King of Recording" is tomorrow, May 7. Make a reservation by calling 513-287-7031. And click here for the Museum Center's rundown of great city tours and more. 

You can read a couple of stories from CityBeat about Herzog and King here and here (check our archives; we've written about them a lot).

 
 
by Mike Breen 04.06.2012
Posted In: Live Music, Music Video, Music History, Music News at 10:48 AM | Permalink | Comments (0)
 
 
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This Date in Music History: April 6

Leonard Bernstein/Glen Gould beef plus Cobra Starship plays for Chardron, Ohio

On this date in 1962, a pre-performance speech by legendary conductor Leonard Bernstein, seen by some as an attack on guest pianist — the almost equally as legendary Glenn Gouldcaused quite a stir in the Classical music world. The concert was to feature Gould performing Brahms' "First Piano Concerto," but apparently the pianist and music director (Bernstein) disagreed on how it was to be performed. The New York Philharmonic concert came towards the end of the orchestra's final season at Carnegie Hall.

The disagreement was largely over tempo — Gould felt the composition should be played very slowly. Before the intermission, the orchestra played selections by Carl Nielsen. Fearful that Gould would not even show up (he was notorious for last-minute cancellations), Bernstein had the Philharmonic prepared to play Brahms' First Symphony just in case. Gould showed, but to prepare the audience for the unorthodox performance, Bernstein took to the podium and delivered the controversial introduction/disclaimer/diss. (Bernstein delivered the same speech at a preview performance the night before.)

Don't be frightened. Mr. Gould is here. He will appear in a moment. I'm not, um, as you know, in the habit of speaking on any concert except the Thursday night previews, but a curious situation has arisen, which merits, I think, a word or two. You are about to hear a rather, shall we say, unorthodox performance of the Brahms D Minor Concerto, a performance distinctly different from any I've ever heard, or even dreamt of for that matter, in its remarkably broad tempi and its frequent departures from Brahms' dynamic indications. I cannot say I am in total agreement with Mr. Gould's conception and this raises the interesting question: "What am I doing conducting it?" I'm conducting it because Mr. Gould is so valid and serious an artist that I must take seriously anything he conceives in good faith and his conception is interesting enough so that I feel you should hear it, too.

But the age old question still remains: "In a concerto, who is the boss; the soloist or the conductor?" The answer is, of course, sometimes one, sometimes the other, depending on the people involved. But almost always, the two manage to get together by persuasion or charm or even threats to achieve a unified performance. I have only once before in my life had to submit to a soloist's wholly new and incompatible concept and that was the last time I accompanied Mr. Gould. But, but this time the discrepancies between our views are so great that I feel I must make this small disclaimer. Then why, to repeat the question, am I conducting it? Why do I not make a minor scandal — get a substitute soloist, or let an assistant conduct? Because I am fascinated, glad to have the chance for a new look at this much-played work; Because, what's more, there are moments in Mr. Gould's performance that emerge with astonishing freshness and conviction. Thirdly, because we can all learn something from this extraordinary artist, who is a thinking performer, and finally because there is in music what Dimitri Mitropoulos used to call "the sportive element", that factor of curiosity, adventure, experiment, and I can assure you that it has been an adventure this week collaborating with Mr. Gould on this Brahms concerto and it's in this spirit of adventure that we now present it to you

Many critics wrote about the intro and viewed it as the conductor's way of saying, "If this sucks, it's his fault." And many took Gould to task for his interpretation of the music (though some musicologists later said Gould's version was a correct reading of the material). Gould, for his part, said he enjoyed the performance and liked that it caused some in the audience to boo. Columbia had planned to release a recording of the performance but backed off given the controversy. Bootlegs spread like wildfire and Sony Classical, years later (in 1998), released the recording with Bernstein's remarks in tact. In the liner notes, Gould is quoted as saying, "Soloists and conductors disagree all the time. Why should this be hidden from the public, especially if both parties still give their all?" Bernstein also didn't seem too bothered by the controversy and he never stopped praising Gould's unique talent.

Here's a clip of Bernstein and Gould getting along just fine in 1960, performing Bach's "Piano Concerto No. 1 in D Minor."

Click on for Born This Day featuring Warren Haynes, Gerry Mulligan, Merle Haggard and Cobra Starship's Alex Suarez.

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by Mike Breen 03.07.2012
Posted In: Music History, Local Music, Music Video at 01:46 PM | Permalink | Comments (0)
 
 
Ill

This Date in Music History: March 7

The Beastie Boys get 'Ill' and Ernie Isley gets born

On this day in 1987, the Beastie Boys' debut LP Licensed to Ill became the first Rap/Hip Hop album to reach No. 1 on the Billboard album charts. Though the band members today seem embarrassed by some of the ridiculousness evident all over the album (including, no doubt, the Wiffle Ball Bat-assisted sexual assault references), it could have been worse for the now-enlightened MCs, who originally wanted to title the record, Don't Be a Faggot. Columbia refused to release anything by that name so the group was eventually convinced to go with something a little less … dumb.

In 1999, Beastie Adam Horovitz wrote a letter to Time Out New York apologizing for their youthful indiscretions on that first album, saying he wanted to "formally apologize to the entire gay and lesbian community for the shitty and ignorant things we said on our first record. There are no excuses. But time has healed our stupidity. … We hope that you’ll accept this long overdue apology."

The Boys' still perform bits of Ill, but with some careful self-editing. Here they are doing "Brass Monkey" at Madison Square Garden a few years back.

But what we really wanna know is … when does Tom Carvel get his even-longer overdue apology?

Born This Day: Musical movers and shakers sharing a March 7 birthday include celebrated French composer Maurice Ravel (1875); legendary Jazz sideman and producer, late drummer Lee Young (1917); one of the greatest frontmen in Rock & Roll history, J. Geils Band's Peter Wolf (1946); the man who played one of the most recognizable organ solos in Rock on "Whiter Shade of Pale," Procol Harum's Matthew Fischer (1946); Pop/Dance music performer Taylor Dane (1962); singer/songwriter for Louisville based Hard Rock crew Tantric, Hugo Ferreira (1974); and multi-instrumentalist with Funk/R&B/Rock & Roll legends The Isley Brothers, Ernie Eisley (1952).

Ernie Eisley was born in Cincinnati 60 years ago and he joined his brothers' group when he was old enough, playing bass on the band's "comeback" hit, the funky "It's Your Thing," in 1969. His bros — led by Ronald Isley — were already hugely successful, selling a million copies of their 1959 single "Shout," not to mention "This Old Heart of Mine" and "Twist and Shout," which, of course, became one of the group's biggest songs thanks to a cover version by a little British band called The Beatles.

When Ernie teamed up with his brothers, they became more of a "band" than a "vocal group," and enjoyed a long string of hits for which Ernie was crucial (either as songwriter or player), including "Fight the Power," "Between the Sheets" and a reworked version of their older tune "That Lady," this time featuring an amazing Rock guitar lead from Ernie.

The group split in the ’80s — Ernie found success with Isley-Jasper-Isley, the group formed with brother Marvin and his brother-in-law — and joined forces again in 1991; littlest bro Marvin retired in 1997 (and passed away two years ago), leaving only Ernie and Ronald. In 2001, the Isleys hit the charts with "Contagious," which made them the only group to have a Top 100 hit in six decades in a row (from the ’50s-’00s). The Isleys were inducted in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame — a no-brainer, really — in 1992. While Ronald embraced being embraced by contemporary R&B and Hip Hop artists from R. Kelly to Tupac Shakur (and spent some time in the jail for tax evasion in more recent years), Ernie retreated from the spotlight somewhat, working with community groups and schools in St. Louis, where he now lives. But he still hits the road from time to time with Ronald and has continued to work as a solo artist.

Ernie has also participated in the "Experience Hendrix" tribute tours of the past few years. It's fitting — Hendrix played guitar with the Isleys when Ernie was 11 years old, even living with the Isley family in New Jersey for a couple of years before becoming hugely successful on his own.

Here's a fantastic archival video from Soul Train featuring The Isleys performing "That Lady."

 
 
by Mike Breen 03.16.2012
Posted In: Music History at 09:38 AM | Permalink | Comments (0)
 
 
reba-mcentire-for-my-broken-heart

This Date in Music History: March 16

Reba loses her band and Dave Matthews introduces Judah Friedlander to the world

On this day in 1991, Country superstar Reba McEntire lost eight members of her touring entourage when their charter plane crashed near San Diego, late at night after Reba and the band had performed a corporate gig for IBM. McEntire and her husband received the news at their hotel room nearby where they'd been sleeping. On a recent episode of Oprah's Master Class, hosted by Oprah on the Oprah channel, McEntire recalled the moment she got the news, calling it "the worst thing that's ever happened in my life." She had been extremely close with the musicians and her tour manager, some of whom had been with her for many years.

That October, McEntire released For My Broken Heart, dedicated to her lost friends. The album (her 18th) featured songs about loss and recovery; in the liner notes, McEntire called it "a form of healing for all our broken hearts." The album made it to No. 3 on the overall album charts and No. 1 on the Country charts (pretty much a forgone conclusion when Reba puts out a record); the title track became her 16th No. 1 Country single and the album's "Is There Life Out There" became her 17th.

Click on for Born This Day featuring Flavor Flav, Patty Griffin and "The Hug Guy":

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