Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Bill Aucoin Managed Kiss, Idol, Squire

Bill Aucoin who was best known for discovering and managing Kiss, died this week at the age of 66 from complications from cancer surgery. Peter Criss, the drummer for Kiss said in an AP interview , "He was the fifth Kiss. If it wasn't for Bill, there would be no Kiss." Bill served as Criss' best man for his second marriage. Bill believed in Kiss when people were passing them off as a crazy makeup group.

Paul Stanley and Gene Simmons, the remaining members of Kiss are quoted on their website: "He was instrumental in guiding us from the beginning and without his vision, leadership and unending dedication, we could never have scaled the heights we have reached...Over all the years, he never missed an opportunity to be with us at our shows near his home or fly in for special concerts, including our most recent Madison Square Garden show. He had hoped to attend our London show earlier this month but his illness prevented it. He still planned to visit us upon the start of our upcoming US tour.
We loved him, told him and have peace that he knew it.
We will grieve and celebrate all he was and did.
We have lost a part of us."

Bill loved life and lived it to the fullest. Words can never convey his impact on us or those close to him.

Aucoin also managed Billy Idol and Billy Squire. Squire paid tribute to Aucoin on his website saying "Thank you friend, for the years of unwavering support...and for never letting me forget what it is that I do best."

Rescue Me Tonight

The show is back for it's final (2 part) season.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Google Music

Surprised that it's taken Google this long to venture into music? According to the Wall St Journal, Google is planning to launch their own music store later this year and then sometime in 2011 launch a subscription service, which is also referred to as music in the cloud. Will Google be able to penetrate Apple's stronghold? Can Google get people to start paying for music again?

Friday, June 18, 2010

Mystery Track #1

Ri who runs the site Music Savvy Mom (click on icon below) posts music without info on Fridays and a few days later reveals who the artists are after the comments come in. My disclaimer: I have a stake in this, but I'm suggesting you listen to Mystery Track #1. That's all I'll say. More to come...

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Wednesday, June 16, 2010

David Bowie & Cher

I have no idea how to describe this 1975 performance from The Cher Show, so I've embedded it. David Bowie and Cher are singing Young Americans and halfway through they burst into Song Sung Blue. a few more songs, Wedding Bell Blues a few more songs then Young Blood and back to Young Americans. You have to watch it all the through. Who came up with this medley?

Monday, June 14, 2010

Tommy James: A Great Read, A Wild Ride

Since the beginning of recorded music, record companies have been cheating their artists out of royalties, none have been so blatant as Morris Levy owner of Roulette Records. Tommy James was the biggest selling artist on Roulette. He had 23 gold singles and nine gold and platinum records. He never saw a dime until Rhino Records reissued his catalog years later. Tommy to this day says there would be no Tommy James (real last name Jackson) without Morris. He was a tireless promoter who left Tommy to his own creative devices to make the records he wanted to make. No creative interference = no royalties. As an outsider looking in, it seems like Tommy's success stemmed from the way business was done at Roulette. Tommy mentions that he dealt directly with Morris and the label staff was very small. Things got done immediately. He didn't have days of meetings and decisions by committee which may have watered down his creative juices and delayed recordings. He let him record with the players he wanted and write with the writers he wanted. He would of course make sure that he got a piece, if not all of the publishing.

Morris was tied in with the Genovese crime family and it's the underlying, hushed reason why Morris got what he wanted, including Tommy James signed to his label, keeping the publishing when it wasn't his and never paying royalties. Morris is a main character in Tommy James' candid biography Me, The Mob and The Music. It covers his life in the music business and was written with Martin Fitzpatrick. The tales of Morris alone are worth the read. He started off by running concessions and coat checks at famous NY clubs and then transformed that into buying the clubs. He owned Birdland.

For me, the little facts that pop up here and there were of great interest.

- Whitey Ford (yes the Yankee HOF pitcher) was a co-owner of a recording studio called Broadway Sound that had one of the first Moog synthesizes, which James uses.

-The first band Linda Eastman McCartney photographed was TJ and The Shondells

-A Flamenco guitar can be found on Crystal Blue Persuasion

-Hubert Humphrey wrote the liner notes for the Crimson and Clover album. (I still have the single, but did not buy the album. It turns out that I was not alone in thinking the lyrics were Christmas is Over. The single was released in November. The timing was there.)

-Crimson and Clover had to be released in it's rough mix version. The story is classic.

-Hanky Panky, James' first single was found by a DJ in Pittsburgh who proceeded to burn his own copies and release it after it started getting local airplay. He sold 80,000 copies on his own label without James' blessing.

-Trade magazines such as Cash Box and Billboard all reported sales and airplay differently. Before Soundscan, a label could manipulate the charts to some extent.

-Shelly Winters was a drunk

James seemed to be ok with Morris guiding his career. He hated that he had to grovel to get money to pay his musicians, but there was a level of safety in knowing Morris would take care of everything. Morris would send him off with a $10,000 check after some office visits. Tommy does not shy away from his drug and infidelity problems (married at 17 with a son on the way-early in the book we lose track of these two, only to hear about his divorce or infrequent visits).

There are some details about the recordings of the records, but it would have been great to dig deep. In one sentence he mentions the teen magazine promotions. I would love to hear the details. Were those real? Teen Beat, etc would have cover headlines "Win a Date With Tommy James", "Your night with Davey Jones". I always wondered if anyone won those contests and if so, what happened. If James was ingesting prescription pills at the rates he writes about, I imagine it would be hard to recollect a lot of what when on. Many people are credited with helping him remember his stories.

Me, The Mob and The Music is a quick, interesting read. You don't have to be a Tommy James fan to enjoy this book. The stories will pull you in. It's already been optioned for a film.

Friday, June 11, 2010

Barbara Skydel RIP

Longtime booking agent Barbara Skydel passed away. She was beloved and a champion of the acts she represented. As Sebastian Bach said on this TwitLonger page, Over my 25 year career, Barbara was the only person who stuck with me through the whole thing, always believed In me, never left me. Until today. A very, very sad day. I loved you Barbara thanks for always being there for me & my family & fans. No one rocked harder than you. Skydel was an inspiration for women in the music business. She was the first female principal at a major agency. Among the many artists she represented were Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers, The Who and The Clash.

Wednesday, June 09, 2010

What's A Sister Golden Hair To Do?

The band America has come up in several conversations in the past week. Just a few minutes ago I was on hold and heard Sister Golden Hair. America has written unforgettably, catchy songs. The music is always first. The lyrics had me perplexed. I spent many an hour with their liner notes pondering over the meaning of the lyrics.

I loved America. I had 1st row center seats at the Nassau Coliseum to see them and I took some very blurry photos. A girl I went to high school with was a scalper and scored the tickets.

Sister Golden Hair was the #1 hit from Hearts, which I played over and over until it had indelible scratches on it. Surprisingly this album is not available on CD in the US and if you want to buy it on iTunes it's an EP of three songs. Dissect Sister Golden Hair's lyrics and it sounds like Gerry Beckley wants to have his cake and eat it too, but I could be misinterpreting. America's lyrics, no matter who wrote them were always a challenge to decipher.

The song starts off with him feeling a little depressed on Sunday so he got himself undressed (which many people thought he was saying got himself on grass) and decides that Monday will be the day. He's not ready to commit to being married, but he thinks that he and the woman could be friends. Unwritten meaning: he'd like them to be friends with benefits. The story unfolds. He's been thinking about Sister Golden Hair (she has a name!) surprise. Does that mean he's surprised that he's thinking about her or that she's a surprise? He says he can't live without her and she should be able to see it in his eyes, although he's been too too hard to find. Hard to look someone in the eye if they are not around. After all his avoidance, she's still on his mind. Here's where it gets even more confusing, He wants her to meet him in the middle, in the air (I bet she's an angel). Could she love him a little just to show she cared? After asking all of this from her he says he tried to fake it and doesn't mind saying that he just can't make it. The music can't be anymore upbeat. Maybe that was his convoluted Dear John musical letter to someone. Would love to know if there was a person who was the inspiration. I bet she wasn't that into him in the first place. Regardless of the lyrics, it is a great song, which I'm sure was helped by a timeless George Martin production.

Tuesday, June 08, 2010

Jan & Dean & Gary Numan

Locnville, 20-year old twin brothers Andrew and Brian Chaplin from South Africa (although born in New York) have recorded a song, Sun In My Pocket. As far as I can tell, it's been released in South Africa and Sony have international rights with a release soon in the UK. The twins are distantly related to Charlie Chaplin (Charlie's brother is the guys great-grandfather).

I never thought these three names would be used to describe a song: Jan, Dean and Gary Numan. The chorus of Sun In My Pocket could have been taken from a Jan & Dean classic with Gary Numan producing the record. The verses have a hip hop edge, but when the chorus comes back to "I've got the sun in my pocket and the moon in my hand" it could fit right in with the Brian Wilson penned Surf City. I have a feeling they were not listening to Jan & Dean as they site influences Pink Floyd and Oasis, which their parents listen to. Then again, Oasis has written some great pop choruses and they may have listened to the Beach Boys and Jan & Dean. Sun In My Pocket would make a great summer hit. Video is below; it's not "Don't Come Around Here No More", but you get to see Locnville in action.

Tuesday, June 01, 2010

Irving Plaza It's Good To Have You Back

Live Nation, the owners of the music club that sits at 15th Street and Irving Place have finally come to their senses. They are restoring the name Irving Plaza to the club that they renamed: the Fillmore New York at Irving Plaza in 2007. That's as catchy as the Los Angeles Angeles of Anaheim.

According to the NY Times, Kevin Morrow who is president of Live Nation's NY division said, “Since I’ve been here I haven’t had anyone say to me, ‘What a great idea that was,’ ” he said, referring to the Fillmore name. “Almost everybody I talk to in the New York music scene, one of their first experiences was at Irving Plaza. And I’m really excited to be able to bring back to the New York music scene what people have overwhelmingly desired.”

The Fillmore East was originally south of Irving Plaza at 2nd Ave and 6th Street. Both venues shared a tradition of housing Yiddish theater. The original Fillmore was only open for a few years, closing in 1971.

I have spent many a nights at Irving seeing a wide swath of wonderful shows: John Hiatt (this year), Radiohead, Los Lobos, INXS, The Ramones and on many many occasions David Johansen. I was a student at Fordham University in the late 70's/early 80's and used to D train it into Manhattan to see shows all the time. David let me in on the back staircase secret which allowed me to get into the club for free. Never remembering my name, David always referred to me as Fordham. He must have taken pity on a music loving college student. The first time he turned me on to the stairs was during his soundcheck. He said have a seat and put me at big table with Deborah Harry sitting directly opposite me. There are about 5 of us in the venue at that point, besides the band. Oh the rock gods were circling my head that night. Don't bother trying to find this stairwell. It's not accessible anymore.