52 Music Moments, Part 1

On the 52nd birthday of co-founder Karyn Albano (her “younger” husband Ric will be 52 in exactly 5 months on December 10th), we celebrate this brave milestone we are putting together a special list of Karyn’s personal 52 great moments in music since July 10, 1968.

Beatles 1968

First, let’s start at the beginning. The Billboard #1 song on July 10, 1968 was “This Guy’s in Love with You” by Herb Alpert, in it’s third of four weeks on top of the charts. The number one album that week was Bookends by Simon & Garfunkel. July 1968 was the moment of conception for what would become Led Zeppelin as The Yardbirds officially broke up that month but Jimmy Page was granted use of their name if he agreed to form a new band and fulfill their commitments to several concerts in Scandinavia. And as for Karyn’s favorite band, The Beatles, they were smack in the middle of recording The White Album and pretty much focused on the songs “Ob La Di, Ob La Da” and “Revolution 1” at Abbey Road studios during the week of July 9th-13th. So from here, we move forward with the 52 moments.

  1. Sugar Sugar by The Archies – Karyn’s favorite song when she was around 2 years old (1970)
  2. American Pie – she remembers a very cool Montessori school teacher playing guitar and singing to this Don McClean classic (1971 or 1972)
  3. Tony Orlando and Dawn – watching their variety show with grandma and singing “Tie a Yellow Ribbon” (early to mid 70s)
  4. Discovering The Beatles – through a friend’s parents record collection in 2nd grade. Before this, Karyn was into Barry Manilow and Donny and Marie, so the Beatles were a true revelation. “I Saved all my pennies and bought my Sgt Pepper album at the Listening Booth in Wyoming Valley Mall at age 8.” (1976)
  5. Barricuda by Heart – instantly bought this single after first listen (1977)
  6. The Flute – choosing this instrument to play from grades 4 to 8 after a music teacher presented the music of Traffic and Jethro Tull (1977-1981)
  7. Parallel Lines – great album by Blondie (1978)
  8. “Help” Movie – on “Dialing for Dollars” television show, solidified love for The Beatles (late 1970s)
  9. Discovering Rock 107 – first real rock station in NE Pennsylvania (around 1980)
  10. Rock 107

  11. Glass Houses – Karyn’s gateway to discovering and purchasing many other Billy Joel albums (1980)
  12. Elvis Costello – introduced to Karyn by her Aunt, starting with the My Aim Is True album (early 1980s)
  13. Warren Zevon on Lettermen – this 1982 appearance led to Karyn discovering his vast library and becoming a lifelong fan,
  14. Early MTV – when they actually played music (1983-1986)
  15. Rolling Stone Magazine – when they actually covered music (early to mid 1980s)
  16. Howard Jones – great synth songs (mid 1980s)
  17. First Rock Concert – The Sharks at St, Joe’s Gym in Hazleton, PA (1985)
  18. First Hooters Concert – at King’s College in Wilkes Barre, PA, the first of around 20 or so (and counting) shows by this Phiily band (November 1985)
  19. The Mandolin – from Led Zeppelin’s “Battle of Evermore” to Steve Winwood’s “Back In the High Life” to several songs by The Hooters, Bret Alexander and others, Karyn is a life-long enthusiast of its sound (mid 1980s to present)
  20. Billy Idol with The Cult – memorable times in the mosh pit(getting pulled out of it by security before being crushed to death) at Allentown Fairgrounds (1986)
  21. Backstage Passes – to meet The Hooters after their show at St. Joe’s Gym in Hazleton, PA (August 1986)
  22. Strong PersuaderRobert Cray album which sparked great love of blues and soul as Karyn went on to become a great fan of Aretha Franklin, Luther Vandross, Anita Baker, Prince and many others (late 1980s)
  23. U2 from the Parking Lot – couldn’t score tickets but had a blast with several Deadheads leftover from the Grateful Dead’s show the night before, outside JFK stadium in Philadelphia (September 1987)
  24. Tommy Conwell after a Phillies Game – several late night shows at the old Vet in Philadelphia (late 80s, early 90s)
  25. Billy Joel from the 3rd Row – great tickets, right in front of the piano, offered by a friend’s aunt for just $35 at the Spectrum in Philly (1990)
  26. Reggae – from Bob Marley to Peter Tosh, Jimmy Cliff and UB40, Karyn has been an avid fan of the genre since the early 90s
  27. The Batty Bat – Sesame Street song loved by Karyn’s daughter Erin (born 1992)
  28. The Badlees New Year’s Eve Show – Karyn and Ric’s first concert (as part of a larger group, not yet a couple) at The Silo in Reading, PA (New Year 1996)
  29. Collective Soul – Karyn and Ric’s first concert as a couple at King’s College in Wilkes-Barre, PA (March 1996)
  30. The Steel Breeze – a unique Pink Floyd tribute set during a Dreaming Tree show at Cousin’s in Hazleton (2000)
  31. The “Accidental” Neil Diamond Show – Karyn scored a ticket to see the first ever show at The First Union arena in Wilkes-Barre when the driver for her in-laws and their friend couldn’t attend. Turned out to be a heck of a show (December 2001)
  32. Paul McCartney Live – first time actually seeing a former Beatle live and it was a fantastic show in Philadelphia, featuring a great backing band during the beginning and end sets with a long solo set by Paul in between (April 2002)
  33. Arts Fest – during our initial years in the Harrisburg area, this 4th of July riverside festival featured some fantastic performances by Central Pennsylvania artists like the Martini Brothers, Darcie Miner, Tripp McNeely, Herbie and the Jellybricks (2004-2010)
  34. Rush at Radio City Music Hall – a spectacular array of sound and light and an unbelievable drum solo by Neil Peart (August 2004)
  35. Briggs Farm Blues festival – Karyn and Ric attended their first Briggs festival in July 2005, featuring Big Jack Johnson. They have attended and/or covered this fantastic festival in Nescopeck, PA virtually every year since.
  36. The Cellarbirds – Karyn discovered the fantastic 2001 album Perfect Smile (their one and only) and went on top buy up about a dozen copies to give out as Christmas gifts (2005)
  37. Tommy Conwell with Hot Wing Jones – fantastic show at Gullifty’s Underground in Camp Hill where Tommy sat at our table and chatted between sets. (November 2007)
  38. Dollars for Diane – after Karyn’s sister Diane suffered a major stroke in 2007, many local businesses, venues and musicians donated towards throwing three benefit concerts and helping us produce a compilation album to benefit Diane and brain injury research in general (2007-2010)
  39. Concert with The Kids – in the summer of 2008 Karyn saw the one and only concert with her husband and all four of her kids, Rush at Hersheypark stadium
  40. The River of Rock Music Network – started by Karyn and Ric with the launching of Modern rock Review in October 2010. In the 10 years since, we have grown to five distinct websites covering vast genres and eras of music with nearly 1000 published original articles.
  41. River of Rock logo

  42. Sound Off for Vets – Karyn helped promote a concert series to benefit Wounded Warriors, organized by Chris Nelson and featuring several talented musicians including Nelson, Mycenea Worley, Shift Seven, Fools On Sunday, Brian Xander, Carmen Magro and many more (2010-2011)
  43. Little Buffalo Music Festival – an excellent festival each October featuring great music such as Jefferey Gaines (2011-2018)
  44. Interviewing Greg Kihn – Karyn had been an avid fan decades before interviewing this classic rocker after he published his fictional rock thriller Painted Black (2015)
  45. Paul McCartney Once Again – a fantastic outdoor show at Hershey stadium where Sir Paul once again impressed (July 2016)
  46. Karyn in Mississippi 2017

  47. Southern Music Odyssey #1 – our trip to many historic music sites in Muscle Shoals, Tupelo, the Mississippi Delta (BB King museum, Dockery Farm, Clarksdale), Memphis (Sun Records, Stax Studio, Beale Street)and Nashville with Karyn taking footage later used in a music video (March 2017)
  48. The Journey – the initial Sinclair Soul album, The Journey remains Karyn’s favorite of all her husband’s projects (June 2017)
  49. Southern Music Odyssey #2 – focused mainly on Virginia and North Carolina with stops at The Carter Family Fold, many sights in Asheville, Virginia Beach and wrapping up with Ric’s performance at the Cape May Singer/Songwriter festival in New Jersey (March 2018)
  50. The Hooters Return – first live performance of the year and a great one on the Ocean City, NJ pier (June 2018)
  51. Van Morrison – during his only North American appearance of the 2018 Outlaw Festival, Van the Man put on a show for the ages at Hersheypark stadium (September 2018)
  52. The Good Guys Session – On her husband’s 50th birthday (December 2018) Karyn joined Ric at Eight Days a Week studio for a super session featuring Bret Alexander, Paul Smith, Ron Simasek, Mycenea Worley, Phil Brosius and her son Jake Albano, making his studio engineering debut. The session yielded much material that was included on the 2019 Sinclair Soul album The Good Guys.
  53. Floyd, VA – a quaint little town that is an absolute incubator for music in the remote mountains of Southern Virginia (December 2019)
  54. Jeremariah – fantastic wedding featuring the Cellarbirds and Ric performing a dedicated song at the wedding of her step-son and daughter-in-law (May 2019)
  55. Southern Music Odyssey #3 – this time focusing on Florida and Georgia, including Ray Charles hometown, Southern Avenue at Bradfordville Blues club, a day in Macon, GA including The Big House and Rose Hill cemetery and topped by a fantastic show by the Allman-Betts Band. This all happened just weeks before the COVID-19 spread and remains the most recent music event to date (February 2020)

 

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The Beatles in India

The Beatles with Maharashi

In early 1968, all four members of The Beatles traveled to northern India to attend a Transcendental Meditation training course with Maharishi Mahesh Yogi. While George Harrison, John Lennon, Paul McCartney and Ringo Starr all arrived at the Maharishi’s ashram in Rishikesh in mid-February with optimism and enthusiasm, they departed at different times and with differing opinions of the positivity of the experience. In any case, prolific songwriting took place in India, much of which would be reflected on The Beatles (white album), which was released later in 1968. In that sense, this historic event remains musically significant, no matter the actual merits of the Maharishi or Transcendental Meditation itself.

This trip followed the adventurous and tumultuous year of 1967. That year was the group’s first full year without touring, where they produced and recorded the iconic classic Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band, were the centerpiece of a worldwide television special, and starred in their third feature film, Magical Mystery Tour, and its recorded subsequent soundtrack. On the darker side, 1967 saw members of the group heavily experimenting in drug use and losing their long time manager Brian Epstein, which ultimately saw the band to begin fracturing professionally. Before departing for India, in what originally was to be a three month stay, the group recorded a few songs for single release. McCartney’s “Lady Madonna” was chosen as the A-side of the single, beating out Lennon’s “Across the Universe”, a version of which later appeared on  Let It Be. The single’s B-side was Harrison’s “The Inner Light”, which was partially recorded with several Indian classical musicians in Bombay, India in January during the sessions for Harrison’s Wonderwall Music soundtrack album. This is notable as the only Beatles studio recording to be made outside Europe and it set a nice vibe as the members publicly departed for India.

Beatles In India

A year earlier, Harrison’s wife Pattie Boyd came across a newspaper advertisement for Transcendental Meditation classes and she and her husband soon became part of this movement. In the summer of 1967, Harrison had recruited the other members of the Beatles to attend a lecture that the Maharishi gave in London, followed by a 10-day Spiritual Regeneration conference in Wales. McCartney reflected that the group had been “spiritually exhausted” and, while at the conference, the group members committed to giving up drugs. However, their stay at the conference was cut short when news of Epstein’s unexpected death reached the group. Before departing Wales, the Maharishi invited the Beatles to stay at his ashram in Rishikesh in the near future.

The group arrived in India in mid-February 1968, along with their wives (or girlfriend in McCartney’s case), along with numerous assistants, reporters, celebrity meditators and even some contemporary musicians like Donovan and Mike Love from The Beach Boys. They flew into Delhi and then rode by taxi the 150 or so miles to Rishikesh, walking to the ashram by crossing a footbridge over the Ganges River and up a hill to the property.

Located in the “Valley of the Saints” in the foothills of the Himalayas, this 14-acre ashram was built 5 years earlier in 1963 and it was funded through a $100,000 donation from American heiress. While there, life was comparable to that of a summer camp, starting with a communal breakfast followed by morning meditation and the occasional lecture from Maharishi. And at the end of the day, the musicians would often jam.

Beatles In India

Donovan taught John Lennon a guitar finger-picking technique that they later used on the songs “Julia” and “Dear Prudence”, the latter of which was a direct narrative about Mia Farrow’s sister who caused concern by locking herself inside and intensely meditating for weeks on end. Starr completed his first solo composition for the Beatles, “Don’t Pass Me By”, which he had begun writing way back in 1963. McCartney was prolific as usual with songs forming from the parody “Rocky Raccoon”, which he wrote to entertain others at dinner, to “Mother Nature’s Son” which was directly inspired by one of the Maharishi’s lectures, to “Back in the USSR” which he wrote in Love’s presence as an interpretation of the Beach Boys style. In fact, plans were briefly discussed for a possible concert in Delhi to feature the Beatles, the Beach Boys, Donovan, and Paul Horn.

Compared to the regular attendees, the Beatles were given some additional perks such as heated tents and on-demand private lessons from the Maharishi. Still, Ringo Starr and his wife Maureen were never quite comfortable with the retreat as Ringo had food allergies and Maureen had a deathly fear of insects. So, after just 10 days, Starr was the first Beatle to leave on 1 March. McCartney and his girlfriend Jane Asher left a few weeks later in mid-to-late March, causing slight derision by Harrison and Lennon who questioned his commitment. Lennon had wanted to invite his new love interest, Yoko Ono, on the trip but feared a confrontation with his then-wife Cynthia and therefore declined to do so. Nevertheless, the Lennons effectively split up on this trip as John moved into his own room about a week into the retreat.

Beatles In India

In early April, the Maharishi announced plans to move the whole retreat to Kashmir, a higher and cooler altitude as the summer months approached. Lennon and Harrison were planning to follow this course to the end, but changed their plans abruptly on April 12th, following rumors of the Maharishi’s inappropriate sexual behavior towards female students. The night before Lennon and Harrison sat up late discussing the Maharishi and decided to leave first thing in the morning. The final two Beatles and their wives left hurriedly and while waiting for their taxis to take the long drive back to delhi, Lennon wrote “Sexy Sadie”, a direct indictment of the Maharishi.

With the Beatles’ quick departure and implicit denunciation of the Maharishi, his rapid rise to fame abruptly ended. Whether or not the rumors about his misconduct were in fact true, remain in dispute to this day. Harrison later apologized for his and Lennon’s abrupt departure and he would later organize a 1992 benefit concert for the Maharishi-associated Natural Law Party. In 2007 McCartney took his daughter to visit the Maharishi, a year before his death in 2008. After a few years of abandonment, the ashram was opened to the public in 2015 and renamed Beatles Ashram.

Since they permanently gave up touring in 1966, this trip to India would be the last time all four Beatles traveled together outside of the UK. While their cohesion as a group began to deteriorate shortly after until they ultimately broke up two years later, the Beatles made a good faith effort to reach a higher understanding. In all, the group members wrote nearly 50 songs in India, some of which were published after the band’s breakup.


Beatles In India

List of songs written by the Beatles in Rishikesh, India 1968

Released on The Beatles (white album) 11/22/68:

  • “Back in the U.S.S.R.”
  • “Dear Prudence”
  • “Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da”
  • “Wild Honey Pie”
  • “The Continuing Story of Bungalow Bill”
  • “I’m So Tired”
  • “Blackbird”
  • “Rocky Raccoon”
  • “Don’t Pass Me By”
  • “Why Don’t We Do It in the Road?”
  • “I Will”
  • “Julia”
  • “Yer Blues”
  • “Mother Nature’s Son”
  • “Everybody’s Got Something to Hide Except Me and My Monkey”
  • “Sexy Sadie”
  • “Long, Long, Long”
  • “Revolution” (1)
  • “Cry Baby Cry”

Released on Abbey Road 9/26/69:

  • “Mean Mr. Mustard”
  • “Polythene Pam”

Released on Anthology 3 compilation 10/28/96:

  • “What’s the New Mary Jane”, recorded during the White Album sessions in 1968
  • “Teddy Boy”, recorded during the Let It Be sessions in 1969

Released on recordings outside the Beatles:

  • “Sour Milk Sea” – written by Harrison, released by Apple Records artist Jackie Lomax as a single 8/26/68
  • “Junk” released on Paul McCartney’s debut solo album McCartney 4/17/70
  • “Look at Me” released on John Lennon’s album John Lennon/Plastic Ono Band 12/11/70
  • “Jealous Guy” (originally titled “Child of Nature”) released on John Lennon’s album Imagine 9/09/71
  • “Circles” released on George Harrison’s album Gone Troppo 11/05/82
  • “Cosmically Conscious” released on Paul McCartney’s album Off the Ground (The Complete Works) 2/02/93

Unreleased (as of 4/03/20)

  • “Dehradun” composed by George Harrison
  • “Spiritual Regeneration/Happy Birthday Mike Love” recorded at Rishikesh by several group members and Donovan 3/15/68

 

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Top 9 Songs of Spring

 
With the arrival of Spring, we will look at some of the great rock songs that explicitly mention or implicitly conjure images of Springtime. We countdown this subjective list from #9 to #1.

9. “Even in the Quietest Moments” by Supertramp

Even In the Quietest Moments by SupertrampThe title song of an album with the same name, this 1977 Supertramp album shows a piano out in the snow on its cover. However, with that backdrop, the distant sound of birds accenting the intro swell of this acoustic ballad accented by woodwinds, sets the perfect Spring mood as the world slowly swells awake from the “quietest moments”.

Classic Rock Review of Even In the Quietest Moments
Buy Even In the Quietest Moments by Supertramp

8. “I Melt With You” by Modern English


In much the same vein as the previous song, this 1982 hit from the aptly titled album After the Snow gives off a vibe of vitality and romance. The new wave/pop hit from the early days of MTV may be a perfect allegory for the spring thaw.

Buy After the Snow by Modern English

7. “Waiting For the Sun” by The Doors

The Doors in 1968

“Can you feel it now that Spring has come? That it’s time to live in the scattered sun…”

With this song lacks in peaceful vibe, it more than makes up for in poetry and adventure. That’s not to say that it has no cool vibe – it does – as the musician’s of the band offer musical prowess under Jim Morrison’s dynamic poetry. Robbie Kreiger has a gentle, bluesy guitar while Ray Manzarak and John Densmore offer sharp and biting rhythms.

Buy Morrison Hotel by The Doors

6. “Grantchester Meadows” by Pink Floyd

Pink Floyd in 1969

“Icy wind of night be gone, this is not your domain…”

Roger Waters’ poetic ballad from the 1969 experimental album Ummagumma is far from Pink Floyd’s most popular song. But its vivid portrayal of a pastoral scene, along with sound effects from birds and bees, make it a perfect selection for this season’s vibe.

Buy Ummagumma by Pink Floyd

5. “Seasons In the Sun” by Terry Jacks

Seasons In the Sun by Terry Jacks

“Goodbye Michelle, it’s hard to die when all the birds are singing in the sky, now that the Spring is in the air with the flowers everywhere, I wish that we could both be there…”

“Seasons in the Sun” is an English-language adaptation of the 1961 song “Le Moribond” by Belgian singer-songwriter Jacques Brel with lyrics later re-interpreted in 1963 by American singer-poet Rod McKuen. The most melancholy song in our countdown is the 1974 smash from one-hit wonder Terry Jacks, which portrays the point of view of a dying man reflecting on the people and moments of his life.

Buy Seasons In the Sun by Terry Jacks

4. “Daydream” by The Lovin’ Spoonful

“It’s one of those days for takin’ a walk outside, I’m blowin’ the day to take a walk in the sun and fall on my face on somebody’s new-mowed lawn…”

There is no doubt this is an unabashed feel-good, happy-go-lucky song. Just look at the pure joy in John Sebastian’s face as he performs the song he wrote with his ex-band, The Lovin’ Spoonful.
Buy Daydream by The Lovin’ Spoonful

3. “The Boys Are Back In Town” by Thin Lizzy

Jailbreak by Thin Lizzy

“That jukebox in the corner blasting out my favorite song, the nights are getting warmer it won’t be long, won’t be long ’til summer comes, now that the boys are here again…”

Obviously, birds aren’t the only species that migrate during the Spring. This chord-driven, hard rock jam by Thin Lizzy celebrates the coming of good times, long days, and wild nights.

Buy Jailbreak by Thin Lizzy

2. “The Rain Song” by Led Zeppelin

Led Zeppelin acoustic set

“It is the Springtime of my loving, the second season I am to know, you are the sunlight in my growing, so little warmth I felt before…”

OK, this is actually more of a “four seasons” song and, at that, “the seasons of emotion”. But the musical vibe of this track is undeniably “Spring” – John Paul Jones’ mellotron, John Bonham’s subtle and tactful drumming and, most especially, Jimmy Page’s duo acoustic/electric strumming of unique, open-tuning guitar chords.

Classic Rock Review of Houses of the Holy
Buy Houses of the Holy by Led Zeppelin

1. “Here Comes the Sun” by The Beatles

Beatles in 1969

“Little darling, I feel that ice is slowly melting. Little darling, it feels like years since it’s been clear, here comes the sun…”

This was a rather easy and obvious choice as our top Springtime song. A beautiful acoustic tune by George Harrison, steeped in Indian philosophy, the song feels like it could have just as easily been a descendent of a Druid celebration at Stonehenge. One of several absolute gems from the Beatles’ final studio album.

Classic Rock Review of Abbey Road
Buy Abbey Road by The Beatles

Well, there you have it. Please add your comments below to tell us what you like or don’t like about our list. Enjoy the Spring!

~

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Our 500th Album Review

On December 23, 2016, Classic Rock Review published our 500th album review, David Bowie’s Station to Station. This milestone dates back to our inception on January 1, 2011 and includes in-depth reviews of the best and most important rock and roll albums released during the period between 1965 and 1996.

For more details, check out all of these reviews by artist name.

500 album icons

Some Interesting Stats

Artists with Most Album Reviews

  • Rush (13)
  • Pink Floyd (10)
  • The Rolling Stones (9)
  • Led Zeppelin (9)
  • Aerosmith (9)
  • The Beatles (8)
  • The Who (8)
  • Bruce Springsteen (8)
  • The Kinks (7)
  • Deep Purple (7)
  • Genesis (7)

Highest Percentage of Eligible Album Reviews*

  • Led Zeppelin (100%)
  • The Beatles (100%)
  • Aerosmith (82%)
  • Rush (81%)
  • Bruce Springsteen (73%)
  • The Doors (75%)
  • The Who (8)
  • Pink Floyd (71%)
  • Van Halen (70%)
  • The Eagles (67%)
  • Robert Plant (67%)

*Minimum 5 albums

Moving into 2017, we will continue to review select albums from this period and expand to cover the 20th anniversary of albums released during the year 1997. Please check out the River of Rock newsletter for more details and features.

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80 Years Ago Today

Buy King of the Delta Blues Singers

Robert Johnson and Pat Albano

NOTE: Below is the original article I wrote five years ago entitled “75 Years Ago Today” which focused on the historic Robert Johnson recordings which were coincidentally made on the very same day that my father was born. At the time, I couldn’t know that the 75th birthday of Pasquale John Albano would be his last here on Earth, as he passed away the following year on August 15, 2012.

      – Ric Albano 11/23/16


75 Years Ago Today

Robert JohnsonOn November 23, 1936 in San Antonio, TX, a young blues man from the Mississippi Delta cut the first half of his famed 29 recorded tracks. These simple songs would ripple through the rock and roll world some three decades later, when some soon-to-be-famous musicians in England discovered the classic recordings and implemented many of the unique and innovative techniques of this young blues player, named Robert Johnson. Johnson was a huge influence on Brian Jones of the Rolling Stones, Eric Clapton of Cream, and most especially Jimmy Page & Robert Plant of Led Zeppelin. It turns out that these 29 tracks were a lot of recordings for Delta musicians of the time and may have helped to preserve the legend of a constantly traveling, Depression-era, blues man of which only two known photographs exist. He otherwise may have gone overlooked or simply forgotten in time, and then how would rock n roll have turned out?

Johnson, who was born 100 years ago in 1911, has come to be known as the “grandfather of rock n roll” due to the rippling of his influence on rock decades later. He lived a short and nomadic life, dead by the age of 27, and was a truly mythic blues figure, shrouded in mystery and rumour. The biggest of these was that he sold his soul to the devil in exchange for extraordinary talent as a guitarist, singer, and composer. Extensive research into his life have suggested Johnson was haunted and driven by a desire to never return to the sharecropper’s agricultural work of his adolescent years, and he lived a live of constantly appearing, disappearing, and reappearing in several locations throughout the south and mid-west. These facts could have certainly played right into the overactive imaginations of some who like to attribute supernatural hands to the unexplained genius, much like the rumors that would swirl about rock n roll stars a half century later. Nonetheless, a true telling of the Robert Johnson story would not be complete without covering this legend, as has been told in print and film many times over the year. Here is the AMG (All Music Guide) version:

Robert Johnson was a young black man living on a plantation in rural Mississippi. Branded with a burning desire to become great blues musician, he was instructed to take his guitar to a crossroad near Dockery’s plantation at midnight. There he was met by a large black man (the Devil) who took the guitar from Johnson, tuned it, and handed it back to him.

Within less than a year’s time, in exchange for his everlasting soul, Robert Johnson became the king of the Delta blues singers, able to play, sing, and create the greatest blues anyone had ever heard. As success came with live performances and phonograph recordings, Johnson remained tormented, constantly haunted by nightmares of hellhounds on his trail, his pain and mental anguish finding release only in the writing and performing of his music.

Just as he was to be brought to Carnegie Hall to perform in John Hammond’s first Spirituals to Swing concert, the news had come from Mississippi; Robert Johnson was dead, poisoned by a jealous girlfriend while playing a jook joint. Those who were there swear he was last seen alive foaming at the mouth, crawling around on all fours, hissing and snapping at onlookers like a mad dog. His dying words (either spoken or written on a piece of scrap paper) were, “I pray that my redeemer will come and take me from my grave.” He was buried in a pine box in an unmarked grave, his deal with the Devil at an end.

Although this legend may seem far-fledged, there is some further situational evidence to support this. Johnson was a teenage plantation worker in Robinsville, MS when married his first wife, who died shortly after during childbirth. It was at this point that Johnson apparently got his drive to get away from agriculture and be a blues musician. He started on harmonica, sitting in with some of the local Delta legends such as Son House and Charley Patton. By their later accounts, he played adequately as a harmonica player but really wanted to play guitar. But when they let him play during sets, he was a bit of a joke, seemingly possessing no skill at all. Johnson then suddenly left Robinsville only to reappear a year later with some unbelievable and innovative skills on the guitar, which far exceeded that of Son House or any of his contemporaries. According to House;

When he finished all our mouths were standing open. I said, ‘Well, ain’t that fast! He’s gone now!’ To a man, there was only one explanation as how Johnson had gotten that good, that fast; he had sold his soul to the devil.

While no one is sure where the “devil tuning the guitar at the crossroads” detail of the story came about, there is some evidence that Johnson was tutored by Ike Zimmerman of Hazelhurst, Mississippi, who would frequently play late at night in graveyards, as a pragmatic measure to not disturb anyone. Further, some have suggested that the “crossroads” story was actually that of a lesser known musician named Tommy Johnson (as suggested in the film Oh Brother, Where Art Thou?, and later combined with the already mysterious bio of the legend Robert Johnson.

In another similarity to later rock myths, Johnson was also believed by some to have faked his own death. The following footage from 1942, shows a yet-to-be identified street musician with incredible finger skill, that some claimed is actually Robert Johnson;
 

 
Another rumor has Johnson living until the mid sixties, dying of liver cancer after his legend was re-discovered with the release of Columbia Record’s King of the Delta Blues Singers, which was the direct recordings that influenced so many 60’s-era musicians. But the truth is, there were many witnesses to Johnson’s death in 1938, allegedly due to poison slipped in his drink by the jealous husband of a woman he had bedded.

Johnson’s success at serial womanizing was another attribute that is sometimes attributed to his deal with the devil. He wandered up and down the Delta and as far away as Nashville, St. Louis, and Chicago. He supposedly used different names in different places, with as many as eight different surnames confirmed by researchers. He had a multi-pronged routine when he would arrive in a new town. He’d first, play popular songs for tips on street corners. Later, in the local black saloon or “juke joint”, he would play the dark and complex original blues which made him legendary, usually accompanying local blues men. Finally, he would find a woman to suit his needs for his stay in that town. The duration of stays were also erratic, some times a day or two, sometimes a week, and he would often disappear suddenly and without notifying anyone.

Robert Johnson
The second of two known photos of Robert Johnson

Eventually, Johnson sought out H.C. Speir, talent scout from Jackson, Mississippi, who put Johnson in touch with producer Ernie Oertle. On November 23, 1936, Oertle brought Johnson to the Gunter Hotel in San Antonio, Texas, a temporary “studio” for Brunswick Records. There, Johnson performed facing a corner in order to enhance the sound of the guitar, a technique later labeled “corner loading”, which Johnson apparently invented on the spot. In the ensuing three-day session, Johnson recorded sixteen selections along with alternate takes for most of these. These included “Cross Road Blues”, “Kind Hearted Woman Blues”, “Terraplane Blues”, which became his first regional commercial “hit”, selling 5,000 copies. The rest of Johnson’s historic recordings were made in 1937.

Robert Johnson’s recordings began to pick up steam and his popularity grew. By 1938, Johnson was about to go national, as a Columia Records executive sought him out to play the first From Spirituals to Swing concert at the famed Carnegie Hall in New York City. But unfortunately, Johnson had already been murdered in Mississippi and was replaced that night by Big Bill Broonzy, who paid tribute to Johnson by performing a couple of his songs from the stage.

Ironically, Johnson did not have nearly the influence on his fellow blues musicians through the 30’s, 40’s, and 50’s as he did on the young rock musicians of the 60’s, who amazingly recoginized his skills through the dusty old recordings. This may be because many of his techniques, such as the boogie bass line, were “re-invented” during the advent of rock n roll in the 1950’s, showing just how far ahead of his time Johnson was. In fact, when Brian Jones first played Johnson for fellow Rolling Stone Keith Richards, he reacted by asking, “Who is the other guy playing with him?” not realizing it was Johnson playing all himself.

None of this would have been possible, had he not found his way to that makeshift recording studio, 75 years ago today. On that very same day, the ninth child of Italian immigrants Donata and Guiseppe Albano was born in Hazleton, PA. That child was named Pasquale John Albano, my father, who today celebrates his 75th birthday.

Happy birthday, Dad.

~

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All Things Must Pass

All Things Must Pass DVDThe chronological framework of Classic Rock Review spans the years 1965-2000 in order to coincide with the rise and fall of the traditional, artist-driven, hard-copy “album”. Nearly mirroring this time span and on a parallel track is the meteoric rise and fall of Tower Records, a record “superstore” with humble beginnings to cult-like status to mainstream worldwide success to sudden demise. Directed by Colin Hanks, All Things Must Pass is a feature-length documentary that examines the company’s origins, serendipitous growth, culture, influence and its legacy.

The promise of this story is in the opening script; “In 1999 Tower Records had over a billion dollars in sales by 2004 the company was bankrupt…” However, in reality, this documentary unfolds in proportion to real time events, with much more attention spent on the decades of growth and expansion in the company and much less (not enough) focused on the sudden and shocking collapse of Tower Records and the recorded music industry as a whole.

Russ Soloman in Tower SF, 1968aThe focal point of the documentary is Russ Solomon, the founder of Tower Records, who got started at a young age working in his father’s variety drug store in Sacramento, California in the 1940s. Solomon’s experience in the record industry started by selling used records from the soda fountain jukebox and slowly led to Russ focusing solely on the wholesale and retail record sales of the multi-purpose drug store. After an initial attempt and failure at running an independent record store in the 1950s, Soloman incorporated Tower Records in 1960 and had several years of steady growth in Sacramento. In 1968, Solomon opened a 5,000-square-foot store in San Francisco, which lauded itself as having the “largest inventory anywhere” and met with immediate phenomenal success. Solomon then replicated this model with an even larger location on the Sunset Strip in Los Angeles, which caught the attention of many popular rock artists and record industry insiders.

Much of the documentary talks about staff who started as simple clerks and rose to the highest executive positions when the company grew and expanded. These stories are somewhat interesting but a bit too “inside baseball” for the passive viewer. The documentary does do well in talking about its culture and relaxed atmosphere, with no dress code and an implicit tolerance of drinking and drugs with the only real “rule” being to show up everyday. Soloman claimed he had a “Tom Sawyer” style of management, letting his staff enthusiastically do the hard work and giving them the freedom to get the work done in their own style. Many of these workers were musicians or music fanatics, creating an ideal social atmosphere for the customers they were looking to attract. The documentary includes on-camera commentary by Bruce Springsteen, Elton John and Dave Grohl as well as a really cool 1974 audio advertisement by John Lennon.

Through the seventies, eighties and nineties, Tower Records grew nationally and internationally, with sales and profits rising each year until the company did over a billion dollars annually by the end of the century. Then came the collapse of terrestrial retail as digital technologies emerged starting in the year 2000 when, after 40 years of consistent growth, sales flat-lined. By no means was this collapse due in total to outside forces and some of the key players at Tower own up to mistakes. One major mistake was the panicked sale of Tower’s Japanese outlets which, ironically, are now the only store locations that are still operating today.

Empty Tower store, 2006

A native of Sacramento, Hanks spent seven years on this documentary and presents the story expertly, bringing the record store experience back to those of us who grew up in that era. The most vivid and haunting scenes coming at the very beginning and very end with a completely empty but still-in-tact Tower location in a retail strip-mall, showing the passing of a cultural pastime.

All Things Must Pass was released on DVD by MVD Entertainment Group on September 13, 2016.
~

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End of Our Original 5-Year Mission

At the beginning of 2011, Classic Rock Review set out on a monumental task to review the best and most important rock and roll album released during the 30 year period between 1965 and 1994. To accomplish this, we set up a 5 year schedule, covering six classic years annually or approximately one every two months. On December 14, 2015, we published the 452nd and final album review of this original mission, The Who’s My Generation, completing a monumental task of original material that, combined, would fill the pages of about six full novels.

Moving into 2016, Classic Rock Review will pivot towards new features with more select album reviews (we did miss a few) and other interesting content. Stay tuned for our next newsletter for more details!

Album Covers Montage


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Greg Kihn, Painted Black

Greg KihnAdding to his long and distinguished career in rock music, Greg Kihn is now fully immersed in the world of creative fiction. His latest novel, Painted Black, is the second in a sequence which has Kihn’s fictional characters interact with real life people and events. In this case, the focus is on the Rolling Stones in general and the death of their founding member, Brian Jones, in particular. In July 1969, Jones was discovered at the bottom of his home swimming pool in what the local coroner concluded was a “death by misadventure”. However, over the past four plus decades, many have theorized that Jones’ death was not an accident and Kihn himself believes that Jones may have been murdered.

Published this past April, Painted Black follows Kihn’s 2013 novel Rubber Soul, which features the rise of The Beatles from playing the clubs in Liverpool though the heights of Beatlemania. The story is written from the point of view of Bobby Dingle, a young man close in age to the “Fab Four”, who helps his father run a second hand store on Penny Lane in Liverpool. His occupation earned him the nickname “Dust Bin Bob” and he befriended the young Beatles through their mutual appreciation of American rock and blues records that Bob collected while trading items for the shop. In the book, he introduces the group to the sounds of James Brown and many others who would become legends. While Dust Bin Bob was the central character, following the turmoil in his family life and his travels with the merchant marines, The Beatles and music were ever present in the story.  Khin manages to weave this story into an almost James Bond like tale of international mystery.

Painted Black by Greg Kihn book coverIn our recent interview with Greg Kihn, he told us that when he completed Rubber Soul, the experience had been so enjoyable that he decided to simply keep writing. For this second in the series, Dust Bin Bob and few supporting characters return but the focus shifts from the Beatles to the Stones and a few years later in time. Brian Jones gave the Rolling Stones their name and was the undisputed band leader during the early part of their career. However, by the late sixties his leadership and musical contributions began to wane, due mainly to chemical dependency but also some personal disputes with other band members. After Jones was arrested a second time for drug possession in 1968, it was difficult for him to acquire a visa to tour the United States and he was soon dismissed from the band he founded. Later in 1968, Jones took up residence of an estate formerly owned by Winnie-the-Pooh author A.A. Milne. In Kihn’s novel, Jones finds an ancient mirror in this house and becomes obsessed with “mirror gazing”, or looking into the mirror for meditation and seeing visions. One of the visions Jones sees eventually leads to his death.

As a teenage musician growing up in Baltimore, Kihn was strongly influenced by British rock and was especially intrigued by Jones due to his musical innovations and slide guitar technique. He started his musical career off in the singer/songwriter mode before relocated to the San Francisco Bay area and concentrating on rock-oriented music. After a debut solo album in 1976 called Beserkley Chartbusters, he formed The Greg Kihn Band with guitarist Robbie Dunbar, bassist Steve Wright, and drummer Larry Lynch. In 1981, the group reached the Top 20 with “The Breakup Song” from the album RocKihnRoll. This was one of a series of album titles that punned on Kihn’s name, including Next of Kihn, Kihntinued, Kihnspiracy, Kihntageous, Citizen Kihn, and the 1989 compilation album Kihnsolidation. Through this long recording career, Kihn’s biggest hit single was 1983’s “Jeopardy”, which he told us took all of fifteen minutes to write but nearly topped the pop singles charts. In comparing this to the relative ease he had in writing Painted Black he said, “sometimes the best songs write themselves.”

 
One thing the award-winning “Jeopardy” video did show was Kihn’s affinity for the horror genre.  He began his literary career in 1996 with the novel Horror Show, which was nominated for the Bram Stoker Award for Best First Novel. This was followed by three more novels in the horror fiction category. Although he has moved on from writing in this category, Kihn told us that he would love to someday do a “creature feature” show.

Kihn also had a long and distinguished radio career on classic rock station KUFX in San Jose, CA. During his 16 years at the station, Kihn had the top-rated morning show in Greg Kihn at AT&T Park in San Franciscothe nation’s fourth largest market and this helped spawn his annual “Khincert”, a rock concert in Mountain View, CA where the Greg Kihn Band has opened up for some rock legends including The Who, Yes, Lynyrd Skynyrd, Steve Miller Band, and Boston. Greg Kihn is also an avid sports fan and has had the honor of singing the national anthem prior to games by the World Champion San Francisco Giants and other professional sports teams in the Bay area.

Although he has tried his hand in many different fields, Kihn has managed a level on consistency (or should we say, “Kihnsistency”) when it comes to his business practices. Since the early seventies he has been managed by his friend and business partner Joel Turtle and he takes pride in the fact that he maintains total ownership of his musical library. He plans to soon make his entire catalogue available on GregKihn.com.

We asked Greg Kihn about the possibility of third installment in the “Dust Bin Bob” series and he said it was a definite possibility. Although he gave no specifics on who the next rock protagonist may be he talked about how out of control that (late sixties) era was, citing Jimi Hendrix as wild, flamboyant and “crazy as a loon” while being the world’s greatest guitarist. “Without people like them (Hendrix and Jones), guitar players may have gotten there but it would have taken much longer.” We look forward to seeing what’s next.

~

Buy Painted Black by Greg Kihn

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Top 9 Rock Moments from 1964

The earliest year we will review on Classic Rock Review will be 1965. But this week we will cheat a little and look at the top moments from the preceding year, 1964, as we part from the 50th Anniversary of that historic rock n’ roll year.

1. Beatlemania

February – April 1964
Beatles on Ed Sullivan show
For the vast amount of rock bands that tour a foreign country for the first time, it is a rather unremarkable event for the people of that country. But on Friday, February 7, 1964, the British band The Beatles were greeted by over three thousand ravenous fans as they touched ground at the then-newly-minted John F. Kennedy Airport in New York. the group’s first stop on their initial American tour was a national television spot on the Ed Sullivan show, which drew over 70 million viewers on Sunday night, February 9th. This touched off a frenzy known as “Beatlemania”, which included an East Coast American tour, two more appearances on the Sullivan show, and climaxed in April, 1964. In consecutive weeks, The Beatles achieved chart dominance, the likes of which have not been equaled before or since. On April 4th they occupied the top five positions on Billboard’s Hot 100 chart with their singles “Can’t Buy Me Love”, “Twist and Shout”, “She Loves You”, “I Want to Hold Your Hand”, and “Please Please Me”. A week later on April 11th, the group held 14 positions on the that same chart, the highest number of concurrent charting singles by one artist ever. In the wake of this initial Beatlemania, came a flood of copycat artists known as the “British Invasion”.

2. The Who Become “The Who”

Spring 1964
The Who in 1964

When 1964 began, Pete Townshend, John Entwistle, and Roger Daltry were in a mod group called The Detours, which played gigs at parties, small hotels, and social clubs. In the early part of the year a series of events took place in rapid succession which put in place one of the most dynamic acts in rock history. First, the group became aware of the group “Johnny Devlin and the Detours” and Townshend decided to float a bunch of “joke” names to see if his bandmates took to any. Daltrey chose “The Who” because he thought it had a “pop punch”. In April, the group had a chance encounter with a stand-in drummer for another band called Keith Moon. They were so immediately taken by his aggressive style that they immediately asked Moon to join The Who. Shortly afterward, Townshend was miming some machine gun theatrics when he accidentally broke the head of his guitar on the low ceiling of the stage. Angered by the laughter that ensued, he smashed the instrument on the stage before picking up another guitar and continuing to perform. Townshend would replicate this moment on stage for decades to come.

3. A Hard Day’s Night

July, 1964
A Hard Days Night by The BeatlesFollowing the frenzied popular success of their arrival in America, the Beatles returned to England and soon achieved an artistic success which rock and pop groups would attempt but fail to replicate for the next half century. A Hard Day’s Night eas a full length film, released on July 6, 1964, which starred the members of the group playing themselves within the frenzy of Beatlemania. A financial and critical success, the film has been ranked as one of the all-time greats of the 20th century. The full length soundtrack of the same name was released on July 10th and was the first Beatles’ album to contain all original music. This album also shows a marked leap in sophistication in the Beatles music with such classics as “Can’t Buy Me Love”, “Things We Said Today”, “And I Love Her”, “I Should Have Known Better”, “If I Fell”, and “I’ll Be Back”. John Lennon was the dominate songwriter on this album with George Harrison becoming the first to employ a new 12-string electric guitar which would be very influential to the later sound of the sixties.

4. “You Really Got Me” by The Kinks

July-August, 1964
The Kinks 1964 albumIn July 1964, The Kinks were in IBC Studios in London when guitarist Dave Davies decided to slice the speaker cone of his guitar amp and poke it with a pin, making a natural distortion sound that came to define hard rock for decades to come. While Davies innovation is not disputed, the identity of the guitarist who played lead. Future Deep Purple organist Jon Lord claimed he was at the session and that then-session player Jimmy Page, later of The Yardbirds and Led Zeppelin, played the solo. The Kinks dispute this account and claim Davies handled the lead himself. No matter the case, there is no doubt that this single song, which wa later brought to new heights on Van Halen’s debut album, is one of the greatest single sources of influence in rock history.

5. The Supremes Five Consecutive #1 Hits

Starting in September 1964
The Supremes
While the Beatles completely dominated the pop world during the early part of the year, The Supremes achieved an unprecedented feat in late 1964 into early 1965. Five consecutive singles released by the Motown group – “Where Did Our Love Go”, “Baby Love”, “Come See About Me”, “Stop! In the Name of Love” and “Back in My Arms Again” – reached number one on the American pop charts.

6. “The House of the Rising Sun”

May-June, 1964
House of the Rising Sun by The AnimalsGroup leader Eric Burdon first heard the traditional American song “House of the Rising Sun” when it was performed by folk singer Johnny Handle. He decided to arrangement in a way inspired by Bob Dylan, but with electric instrumentation. The result is a unique and indelible track by The Animals unlike anything else from the early sixties.

7. Eric Clapton and the Yardbirds

The Yardbirds in 1964
Eric Clapton joined the Yardbirds in late 1963 and left the band in early 1965 when he was dissatisfied with their new pop direction. In between was the calendar year 1964, when Clapton led the group to explore and advance the blues foundations which would be adopted by many groups over the coming decades, including several of Clapton’s own vast musical entities.

8. The Rolling Stones Debut Album

April 16, 1964
The Rolling Stones debut albumThe most remarkable thing about the Rolling Stones debut album may be just how unremarkable it really is. Recorded in early 1964, the album was self-titled in the UK, while the US version dubbed England’s Newest Hitmakers and was full of blues covers with only one Jagger-Richards original.

9. The Times They Are a-Changin’

January 13, 1964
The Times They Are a Changin by Bob DylanEver the prophet, Bob Dylan could not have more aptly named his third album, released right at the beginning of 1964. Like his later 1964 album, Another Side of Bob Dylan, Dylan performed all instruments and vocals on this album, which his first to feature only original compositions.

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Top 9 Rock Festivals of All Time

This week Classic Rock Review joins the celebration of the 45th Anniversary of the historic 1969 Woodstock Music Festival. In conjunction with Top 9 Lists, we present a list of the Top 9 Rock Festivals of all time, along with a bonus list of Top 9 Single Day, Single Location Concerts.

Woodstock from behind the stage

1. Woodstock

August 15-18, 1969
Bethel, New York

This remains the mother of all music festivals, held at a 600-acre dairy farm owned by Max Yasgur. A series of coincidental events unfolded which effected the location and operation of this festival, which grew to become a “free” event for over 400,000 attendees. Regarded as a pivotal moment in popular music history, 32 acts performed during the rainy weekend, starting with Richie Havens, and concluding with a memorable performance by Jimi Hendrix as the crowd dispersed mid-morning on Monday, August 18th. Woodstock was immortalized in a later documentary movie as well as a song by Joni Mitchell, who was one of many major acts that did not attend by later regretted it.

Woodstock Performers: Richie Havens, Sweetwater, Bert Sommer, Tim Hardin, Ravi Shankar, Melanie, Arlo Guthrie, Joan Baez, Quill, Country Joe McDonald, Santana, John Sebastian, Keef Hartley Band, The Incredible String Band, Canned Heat, Mountain, Grateful Dead, Creedence Clearwater Revival, Janis Joplin with The Kozmic Blues Band, Sly and the Family Stone, The Who, Jefferson Airplane, Joe Cocker and The Grease Band, Ten Years After, The Band, Johnny Winter, Blood, Sweat & Tears, Crosby, Stills, & Nash, Paul Butterfield Blues Band, Sha Na Na, Jimi Hendrix and Gypsy Sun Rainbows

Buy Woodstock soundtrack
Buy Woodstock: Three Days of Peace & Music DVD

2. Monterey Pop Festival

June 16-18, 1967
Monterey, California

Jimi Hendrix at MontereyCredited as the event which sparked the “The Summer of Love”, The three-day Monterey International Pop Music Festival had a rather modest attendance but was soon recognized for its importance to the performers and significance to the sixties pop scene. The lineup consisted of a blend of rock and pop acts with memorable performances by The Who and Jimi Hendrix Experience.

Monterey Pop Performers: Jefferson Airplane, The Who, The Jimi Hendrix Experience, Janis Joplin, Otis Redding, Booker T. & the MG’s, Ravi Shankar, The Mamas and the Papas

Buy Monterey Pop Festival Live album

3. Live Aid

July 13, 1985
London and Philadelphia

Live Aid, PhiladelphiaStill the largest benefit concert 30 years on, Live Aid was a also the first live multi-venue event, with over 70,000 at London’s Wembley Stadium and close to 100,000 at JFK Stadium in Philadelphia. Organized by musician Bob Geldof of the Boomtown Rats as relief for the Ethiopian famine, the concert evolved from Band Aid, a multi-artist group who recorded “Do They Know It’s Christmas?” in 1984. Live Aid was also one of the largest worldwide television broadcasts, with an estimated audience of 1.9 billion in about 150 nations. Memorable performances and moments included those by Queen, U2, Dire Straits, a reunited Black Sabbath, and a loose reunion by members Led Zeppelin, the first since their breakup in 1980.

Live Aid Performers: Status Quo, The Style Council, The Boomtown Rats, Adam Ant, Spandau Ballet, Elvis Costello, Nik Kershaw, Sade, Sting, Phil Collins, Branford Marsalis, Howard Jones, Bryan Ferry, David Gilmour, Paul Young, U2, Dire Straits, Queen, David Bowie, Thomas Dolby, The Who, Elton John, Paul McCartney, Band Aid, Joan Baez, The Hooters, Four Tops, Billy Ocean, Black Sabbath, Run–D.M.C., Rick Springfield, REO Speedwagon, Crosby, Stills and Nash, Judas Priest, Bryan Adams, The Beach Boys, George Thorogood and the Destroyers, Simple Minds, The Pretenders, Santana, Ashford & Simpson, Madonna, Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers, Kenny Loggins, The Cars, Neil Young, The Power Station, Thompson Twins, Eric Clapton, Led Zeppelin (announced as “Jimmy Page, Robert Plant, John Paul Jones, Tony Thompson, Paul Martinez, Phil Collins”), Duran Duran, Patti LaBelle, Hall & Oates, Mick Jagger, Eddie Kendricks, David Ruffin, Tina Turner, Bob Dylan, Keith Richards, Ronnie Wood, USA for Africa

Buy Live Aid DVD

4. Isle of Wight Festival

August 26-30, 1970
Isle of Wight, UK

Isle Of Wight Festival, 1970In sheer numbers, the 1970 Isle of Wight Festival may be the largest ever, with estimates of over 600,000, which is an increase of about 50% over Woodstock. Promoted by local brothers Ronnie, Ray and Bill Foulk, the 5-day event caused such logistical problems (all attendees had to be ferried to the small island) that Parliament passed the “Isle of Wight Act” in 1971, preventing gatherings of more than 5,000 people on the island without a special license. Memorable performances included late career appearances by Jimi Hendrix and The Doors, and The Who, who released their entire set on the 1996 album Live at the Isle of Wight Festival 1970.

Isle of Wight 1970 Performers: Judas Jump, Kathy Smith, Rosalie Sorrels, David Bromberg, Redbone, Kris Kristofferson, Mighty Baby, Gary Farr, Supertramp, Howl, Black Widow, The Groundhogs, Terry Reid, Gilberto Gil and Caetano Veloso, Fairfield Parlour, Arrival, Lighthouse, Taste, Rory Gallagher, Chicago, Procol Harum, Voices of East Harlem, Cactus, John Sebastian, Shawn Phillips, Joni Mitchell, Tiny Tim, Miles Davis, Ten Years After, Emerson, Lake & Palmer, The Doors, The Who, Sly & the Family Stone, Melanie, Good News, Ralph McTell, Heaven, Free, Donovan, Pentangle, The Moody Blues, Jethro Tull, Jimi Hendrix, Joan Baez, Leonard Cohen, Richie Havens

Buy Message to Love, The Isle of Wight Festival DVD

5. Ozark Music Festival

July 19-21, 1974
Sedalia, Missouri

Ozark Music Festival stage“No Hassles Guaranteed” was the motto of the Ozark Music Festival, held at the Missouri State Fairgrounds in 1974. While this festival offered an impressive lineup of artists as well as a crowd upwards of 350,000 people, the Missouri Senate later described the festival as a disaster, due to the behaviors and destructive tendencies of the crowd.

Ozark Music Festival Performers: Bachman–Turner Overdrive, Aerosmith, Premiata Forneria Marconi, Blue Öyster Cult, The Eagles, America, Marshall Tucker Band, The Nitty Gritty Dirt Band, Boz Scaggs, Ted Nugent, David Bromberg, Leo Kottke, Cactus, The Earl Scruggs Revue, Lynyrd Skynyrd, Electric Flag, Bob Seger & the Silver Bullet Band, Joe Walsh and Barnstorm, The Souther Hillman Furay Band, The Ozark Mountain Daredevils, Charlie Daniels Band, REO Speedwagon, Spirit

6. US Festival

May 28-30, 1983
Devore, California

Steve Wozniak’s US Festivals were staged on two occasions in September 1982 and May 1983. The second of these was packed with a lineup of top-notch eighties acts who performed in an enormous state-of-the-art temporary amphitheatre at Glen Helen Regional Park.

1983 US Festival Performers: Divinyls, INXS, Wall of Voodoo, Oingo Boingo, The English Beat, A Flock of Seagulls, Stray Cats, Men at Work, The Clash, Quiet Riot, Mötley Crüe, Ozzy Osbourne, Judas Priest, Triumph, Scorpions, Van Halen, Los Lobos, Little Steven & the Disciples of Soul, Berlin, Quarterflash, U2, Missing Persons, The Pretenders, Joe Walsh, Stevie Nicks, David Bowie

7. The Crossroads Guitar Festival

June 4-6, 2004
Dallas, Texas

Crossroads Festival 2004 adStarting in 2004, the Crossroads Guitar Festivals have been held every three years to benefit the Crossroads Centre for drug treatment in Antigua, founded by Eric Clapton. These concerts showcase a variety of guitarists, with the first lineup at the Cotton Bowl stadium in 2004 featuring some legends along with up-and-comers hand-picked by Clapton himself.

2004 Crossroads Guitar Festival Performers: Eric Clapton, Johnny A, Vishwa Mohan Bhatt, Ron Block, Booker T. & the M.G.’s, Doyle Bramhall II, JJ Cale, Larry Carlton, Robert Cray, Sheryl Crow, Bo Diddley, Jerry Douglas, David Honeyboy Edwards, Vince Gill, Buddy Guy, David Hidalgo, Zakir Hussain, Eric Johnson, B.B. King, Sonny Landreth, Jonny Lang, Robert Lockwood, Jr., John Mayer, John McLaughlin, Robert Randolph, Duke Robillard, Carlos Santana, Hubert Sumlin, James Taylor, Dan Tyminski, Steve Vai, Jimmie Vaughan, Joe Walsh, ZZ Top, David Johansen

Buy Eric Clapton: Crossroads Guitar Festival 2004 DVD

8. Live 8

July 2, 2005
Locations world wide

Pink Floyd at Live 8Held 20 years after he organized Live Aid, Bob Geldof’s Live 8 was even more ambitious, being held in nine different locations around the world on the same day. Timed to coincide with the G8 conference in Scotland that year, the goal was to raise money to fight poverty in Africa. The most memorable moment from the concerts was at Hyde Park in London where the classic lineup of Pink Floyd reunited for the first time in over two decades.

Live 8 Performers: U2, Paul McCartney, Annie Lennox, Mariah Carey, R.E.M. The Killers, The Who, UB40, Pink Floyd, Elton John, Bob Geldof, Velvet Revolver, Madonna, Coldplay, Robbie Williams, Will Smith, Alicia Keys, The Black Eyed Peas, Kanye West, Linkin Park, Jay-Z, Rob Thomas, Sarah McLachlan, Stevie Wonder, Maroon 5, Deep Purple, Neil Young, Buck Cherry, Bryan Adams, Mötley Crüe, Brian Wilson, Green Day, a-Ha, Roxy Music, Dido, Peter Gabriel, Snow Patrol, The Corrs, Zola, Lucky Dube, Jungo, Pet Shop Boys, Muse, The Cure

Buy Live 8 DVD

9. Woodstock ’94

August 12-14, 1994
Saugerties, New York

Organized to commemorate the 25th anniversary of the original Woodstock festival, Woodstock ’94 was promoted as “3 More Days of Peace and Music”. in fact, this concert took place near the originally intended location of that first show and other similarities such as common performers, similar crowd size, rain, and mud.

Woodstock ’94 Performers: Blues Traveler, Candlebox, Collective Soul, Jackyl, King’s X, Live, Orleans, Sheryl Crow, Violent Femmes, Joe Cocker, Blind Melon, Cypress Hill, Rollins Band, Melissa Etheridge, Crosby, Stills, & Nash, John Sebastian, Nine Inch Nails, Metallica, Aerosmith, Country Joe McDonald, Sisters of Glory, Arrested Development, Allman Brothers Band, Traffic, Santana, Green Day, Paul Rodgers Rock and Blues Revue, Spin Doctors, Porno For Pyros, Bob Dylan, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Peter Gabriel

Read more on Woodstock ’94 from our recent Comebacks and Reunions special feature


Bonus Top 9 List: Best Single Day, Single Location Shows

The Who at Concert for New York City

1. The Concert for New York City October 20, 2001. New York, NY
2. The Band’s Last Waltz November 25, 1976. San Francisco, CA
3. Atlantic Records 40th Anniversary Celebration May 14, 1988. New York, NY
4. Concert for Bangladesh August 1, 1971. New York, NY
5. Knebworh Festival June 30, 1990. Knebworth, UK
6. Texxas Jam July 1, 1978. Dallas, TX
7. Farm Aid September 22, 1985. Champaign, IL
8. Canada Jam August 26, 1990. Bowmanville, Ontario
9. Altamont Free Concert December 6, 1969. Tracy, CA

~

Ric Albano

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