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In the chaotic world of rock 'n' roll, in which the lifespan of most bands can be measured in terms of a few years or a few months, John Kay and Steppenwolf have emerged as one of rock's most enduring and respected bands, delivering hard-hitting, personally-charged music for more than three decades. In the late 1960s, Steppenwolf embodied that era's social, political and philosophical restlessness, building an impressive body of edgy, uncompromising rock 'n' roll that retains its emotional resonance more than three decades after the band's formation. Such Steppenwolf standards as "Born to Be Wild," "Magic Carpet Ride," "Rock Me" and "Monster" stand amongst Rock's most indelible anthems. At last count, the band's worldwide record sales exceed 25 million units. Its songs remain fixtures on classic-rock radio, and have been licensed for use in approximately 50 motion pictures and an even greater number of television programs. And, in addition to being the first band to use the term "heavy metal" in a song (in "Born to Be Wild"), Steppenwolf's punchy style helped to establish the fundamentals of the hard-rock sound that would flourish in the 1970s. Steppenwolf's remarkable resilience is largely a reflection of the fierce determination and never-say-die tenacity that's driven Kay for much of his life. He was born Joachim Fritz Krauledat in 1944 in the section of Germany then known as East Prussia. He never knew his father, who was killed fighting in Russia a month before John's birth. When John was less than a year old, he and his mother fled to what would soon become Communist-controlled East Germany. When he was four, they undertook a perilous midnight escape into West Germany. Growing up in Hannover, West Germany, John was profoundly affected by the American rock 'n' roll he heard on U.S. Armed Forces Radio. Though he didn't speak English at the time, the music's primal energy touched something deep in him, instilling both a driving ideal of personal freedom and an abiding interest in American culture. That vision became a reality in 1958, when the teenager emigrated with his mother and stepfather to Toronto. There, he immersed himself in the rock, R&B, country and gospel music that emanated from late-night U.S. clear-channel AM stations, while learning English from the speed-rapping DJs who dominated the rock 'n' roll airwaves. By 1967, The Sparrow had run its course and Kay was back in Los Angeles, where ABC-Dunhill Records staff producer Gabriel Mekler encouraged him to form a new group to record for his label. Towards that end, the singer reenlisted two old Sparrow bandmates, drummer Jerry Edmonton and keyboardist Goldy McJohn, and recruited 17-year-old guitar prodigy Michael Monarch and bassist Rushton Moreve. The new outfit was christened Steppenwolf, after Hermann Hesse's mystical novel of the same name. Steppenwolf's self-titled 1968 debut album-recorded in a mere four days-introduced the band's iconoclastic approach, which combined a tough, blues-rooted sound, a penchant for topical lyrics and the gritty growl of Kay, whose brooding presence and trademark shades made him one of the era's most magnetic and identifiable figures. Steppenwolf soon emerged as one of the few bands of the late '60s to successfully straddle the pop-oriented AM mainstream and the hip FM underground, scoring substantial success on both the single and album charts without tailoring its approach to pander to either constituency. "Born to Be Wild"-written by ex-Sparrow member Dennis Edmonton, aka Mars Bonfire-became Steppenwolf's first major hit, and was subsequently featured prominently (along with the band's pointed reading of Hoyt Axton's anti-hard-drug composition "The Pusher") in the seminal '60s film Easy Rider, cementing Steppenwolf's status as counterculture icons as well as earning the group a hardcore biker following. "For the times, Steppenwolf was an uncharacteristically tight band," Kay notes. "In San Francisco, The Sparrow had been allowed to stretch out and experiment. But when Steppenwolf was created, I think Jerry and I had both come to the conclusion that the strong rhythmic element was what we really valued. Our philosophy was 'Hit 'em hard, make your point and move on.'" Steppenwolf's aggressive image co-existed with a thoughtful lyrical stance that challenged mainstream values and counterculture platitudes alike. "That idea of speaking your mind in the lyrics is something I had picked up in the folk-music community, and from growing up in post-World War II Germany," Kay states. "We didn't see why you couldn't have music that worked on a gut level but still offered some food for thought." The band's career momentum and musical progression continued with such best-selling albums as Steppenwolf The Second (which yielded another Top Five classic in "Magic Carpet Ride"), At Your Birthday Party (which spawned the Top Ten hit "Rock Me"), the ambitiously conceptual Monster (whose politically provocative title track became a surprise hit), Steppenwolf Live (which featured studio single "Hey Lawdy Mama"), Steppenwolf 7 and For Ladies Only. Along the way, various members came and went, with bassist Moreve leaving in late 1968; he was initially replaced by former Sparrow member Nick St. Nicholas, before being supplanted in early 1970 by George Biondo. Guitarist Monarch exited in 1969, replaced first by Larry Byrom and subsequently by Kent Henry. "Steppenwolf was always kind of a work in progress," says Kay. "By our second album, we had become more confident in not having to mimic others in our attitude, in our look or in our music. We were really in uncharted territory to a great extent, because at the time there were very few models of how all this should work. You'd play some arena in Monroe, Louisiana, using the same public-address system that they used to announce basketball games, with no monitors. You'd spend a lot of time scratching your head thinking 'There's got to be a better way to do this.'" Steppenwolf's popularity and influence continued unabated into the early 1970s. But, burned out from the endless album/tour grind, the quintet officially disbanded on Valentine's Day 1972, a day that L.A. Mayor Sam Yorty officially designated as "Steppenwolf Day." Kay then released a pair of critically acclaimed solo albums, Forgotten Songs and Unsung Heroes and My Sportin' Life, which found him exploring new musical and lyrical territory, with rewarding results. Following Steppenwolf's highly successful 1974 European "farewell" tour, Kay reformed the band with Jerry Edmonton, Goldy McJohn, George Biondo and new guitarist Bobby Cochran. The group recorded three more albums-Slow Flux, which yielded the Top 20 hit "Straight Shootin' Woman," Hour of the Wolf and Skullduggery-for the Epic-distributed Mums label, before calling it a day once again in 1976. Kay then signed with Mercury Records and relaunched his solo career with 1978's well-received All In Good Time. It was around this time that Kay learned that two of his former bandmates were touring with a bogus "Steppenwolf." The notion of the fake band playing low-rent club gigs-and tarnishing the legacy he'd spent nearly a decade building-aroused Kay's fighting spirit, motivating him and Steppenwolf co-founder Jerry Edmonton (who by then had retired from music in favor of a career in photography) to take steps to establish their legal claim to the band name. In 1980 Kay launched an all-new lineup, now billed as John Kay and Steppenwolf, virtually starting from scratch to restore his band's good name. The new group spent the next several years working a punishing touring regimen, playing anywhere and everywhere it could to rebuild Steppenwolf's reputation as a class act. "That was a real ego adjustment, and a real test-do you want to do this badly enough to rebuild this thing from the ground up?," Kay admits. "It was a tremendously humbling experience, grinding it out 20 weeks at a time, reconquering small chunks of real estate step by step. But it showed me that there were people out there who still felt a deep connection to Steppenwolf. By 1987 or thereabouts, we came up for air and looked around and saw what we'd accomplished. We didn't have any albums in the Top 40, but we had built this solid thing that was kind of like the Grateful Dead in miniature." Indeed, the lengthy rebuilding period had put Kay and company back in touch with a large and loyal fan base-as well as an influx of younger listeners responsive to band's enduring appeal-that has kept Steppenwolf rolling ever since. Since then, John Kay and Steppenwolf-which now includes longtime members Michael Wilk (keyboards/bass) and Ron Hurst (drums) and relatively recent addition Danny Johnson (guitar)-have released seven albums and maintained a busy international touring schedule that keeps the band on the road for several months per year. The band also hosts Wolf Fest, an annual weekend-long festival that draws fans from around the world-fondly dubbed "the Wolfpack"-to the band's adopted home base in Tennessee. In 1994, on the eve of Steppenwolf's 25th anniversary, Kay returned to the former East Germany for a triumphant series of Steppenwolf concerts; that trip reunited him with friends and relatives he had not seen since his early childhood. The same year, Kay published his autobiography, Magic Carpet Ride, which compellingly related the ups and downs and his and his band's history. Today's Steppenwolf, operating without major-label financing, is the model of a successful cyber-age cottage industry. The band's self-contained operation incorporates an in-house 24-track digital recording studio, as well as an extensive website-www.steppenwolf.com-that serves as a cyber-clubhouse for fans around the world. The website also functions as an outlet for Steppenwolf music, allowing fans easy access to the group's recent work, as well as CD reissues of the entire Steppenwolf and John Kay album catalogue. The band continues to generate vital new music, with a number of recording projects in the works, including the recent John Kay solo effort, Heretics and Privateers. Steppenwolf's dramatic and sometimes turbulent history recently became the subject of an episode of VH-1's documentary series Behind the Music. That much-talked-about broadcast underlined the band's ongoing stature and influence, but John Kay, now in his fourth decade with Steppenwolf, remains focused firmly on the future. "There's a lot of truth in that old cliche about whatever doesn't kill you making you stronger," Kay concludes. "Looking back, I realize that it's the struggles that have taught us how to gain our independence and live the rock 'n' roll of life on our own terms."
ALVIN LEE Virtuoso rock guitarist whose band Ten Years After was a highlight of Woodstock December 19th 1944 - March 6th 2013 Alvin Lee, globally acclaimed rock guitarist, passed away in the early hours of Wednesday morning, March 6th 2013. He had been admitted to hospital in Spain, where he lived, for a routine surgical procedure for atrial arrhythmia but died from unforeseen complications. He was 68. Born in Nottingham to Sam and Doris on December 19th 1944, the youngest of three children, Alvin Lee began playing guitar aged 13 and two years later had formed the core of the band Ten Years After. Originally influenced by his parent's collection of jazz and blues records, it was the advent of rock and roll that truly sparked his interest and creativity and guitarists like Chuck Berry and Scotty Moore provided his inspiration. The Jaybirds, as Lee's early band was called, were popular locally and had success in Hamburg, Germany, following the Beatles there in 1962. But it wasn't until the band moved to London in 1966 and changed its name to Ten Years After that international success beckoned. The band secured a residency at the Marquee Club and an invitation to the famous Windsor Jazz & Blues Festival in 1967 led to their first recording contract. The self titled debut album surprisingly received play on San Francisco's underground radio stations and was enthusiastically embraced by listeners, including concert promoter Bill Graham who invited the band to tour America for the first time in the summer of 1968. Audiences were taken with Lee's distinctive, soulful, rapid fire guitar playing and the band's innovative mix of blues, swing jazz and rock, and an American love affair began. TYA would ultimately tour the USA 28 times in 7 years, more than any other U.K. band. Appearing at the famed Woodstock Festival, Lee's virtuoso performance was one of the highlights and remains today a standard for many other guitarists. Captured on film in the documentary of the festival, his playing catapulted him into superstardom, and soon the band was playing arenas and stadiums around the globe. Although Lee later lamented that he missed the intimacy of smaller venues, the film made a huge impact in bringing his music to a worldwide audience. TYA had great success, releasing ten albums together, but by 1973 Lee was feeling limited by the band's style. With American gospel singer Mylon LeFevre and a host of rock talents like George Harrison, Steve Winwood, Ron Wood and Mick Fleetwood , he recorded and released On The Road To Freedom, a highly acclaimed album that was at the forefront of country rock. A year later, in response to a dare, Lee formed Alvin Lee & Company to play a show at the Rainbow in London and released it as a double live album, In Flight. An energetic mix of rhythm & blues and rock, with a tribute to Elvis Presley thrown in for good measure, Lee once, in his understated fashion, called this band "a funky little outfit". They were far more than that and various members of the band continued on with Lee for his next two albums, Pump Iron and Let it Rock. Lee finished out the 70s with a powerhouse trio he called Ten Years Later who also released two albums, Ride On and Rocket Fuel, and toured extensively throughout Europe and the USA. The 80s brought another change in Lee's direction, with two albums that were strong collaborations with Rarebird's Steve Gould and an extensive tour with the Rolling Stones' Mick Taylor joining his band. Lee's overall musical output includes more than 20 albums, including 1985's Detroit Diesel and the back to back 90s collections of Zoom and 1994 (I Hear You Rocking). Guest artists on both albums include George Harrison, whose brilliant slide guitar perfectly complements Lee's lead. Their duet on 1994's The Bluest Blues led one reviewer to call it "the most perfect blues song ever recorded." Alvin Lee in Tennessee, released in 2004, was recorded with rock and roll legends Scotty Moore and D.J. Fontana. The critically acclaimed album features an upbeat selection of songs that were timely and forward looking, yet borrowed from Lee's beloved 50s rock and roll. It was followed in 2007 by Saguitar, a varied collection of songs that flowed from blues to raucous rock to an innovative interpretation of rap. His last CD, Still On The Road To Freedom, took the listener on an musical journey to the past and present and back again. Alvin Lee is survived by his wife Evi, daughter Jasmin and her mother Suzanne (Alvin’s former life partner), also by his two sisters Irma and Janice. Tributes are already coming in from the music world. Quotes Joe Brown, close friend and musician: “Alvin was probably the best Rock ‘n’ Roll guitarist I’ve ever met. It is going to be a great loss to us all. I’ll certainly miss him.” Chris Wright, Chairman (non Exec) BMG Chrysalis UK: “My career, and the foundations of the entire Chrysalis organisation started when Alvin and his group, who soon changed their name to Ten Years After, came up to Manchester in 1966 to play in a small student blues club I operated with a friend. I immediately signed them to a management contract, and later they joined both Chrysalis Records and Chrysalis Music. They went on to be an integral part of the British rock and blues invasion of the States, and starred at both the Woodstock Festival, and in the subsequent film. For a while in the late 60s and early 70s they were on a par with any group in the World in terms of popularity. He was known as the fastest guitarist in the West, but that belied the fact that he was also one of the most talented, and certainly the most proficient. He was also a great on stage performer. It is really sad we will never see him again. His passing leaves a tremendous void in an era of great British music.” Brian May, musician: Writing on his website " (Lee was) a legendary and influential guitarist and very nice bloke. His speed and dexterity, in the days when I would go as a student to the Marquee Club to see Ten Years After, was scary and exciting. He was daring enough to play and sing close to his limit every time." Roger Chapman, musician: “Alvin Lee. What a great natural guitar player. Frightened of nothing, just grabbed a guitar & rocked like f***. Met him in 1961 thereabouts, shared a stage in Nottingham with him & he was on it then. Playing songs, me being a bit snobbish, I never thought any other British muso knew except myself so I was instantly impressed & have been ever since. Always stayed pals even though we were separated by different roles & countries. He did a lot of really good stuff on my albums over the years. "Do you wanna run through Alv" I'd say & he'd reply "nah just sling it down & take it". What a natural! What a guy! Lotsa love Alvin it was a pleasure knowing you.” Mylon Le Fevre, musician: Everybody knows he was a great musician and guitarist but he was a lot more than that to me. He was my brother and friend from the first time I met him in 1970. His was a good man with a good heart. He was an honest man. As far as I know he did everything he ever told me he would do. He never lied to me one time. He was generous, kind and loyal to our friendship. He was a Rock Star and I was just a country boy from Georgia, in an opening band. But from the beginning he treated me like an equal. We met when my band opened for TYA on one of their first American Tours after the Woodstock. At first we just hung out after the gigs, got loaded and jammed. Eventually we started to write some songs together. After one of the five tours we did together we decided while on vacation in Jamaica to lay down some tracks and see where it led us. That was the beginning of "On the Road to Freedom". During the 43 years that I knew him, I learned to truly love him like a brother and I will miss him. It was an honour to be his friend.
Phil Alvin – Vocals and guitar Bill Bateman - Drums John Bazz – Bass Keith Wyatt – Lead guitar The Blasters exemplify the best traditions of American Music, performing with passion and honesty that for over three decades has won the hearts and souls of fans worldwide. Composed of founding members vocalist-guitarist Phil Alvin, drummer Bill Bateman and bassist John Bazz with Keith Wyatt on guitar, they carry on a hard-won legacy as one of the most recognizable and credible bands in American Music. Their influences range from the likes of George Jones and Carl Perkins to Ike Turner, Howlin’ Wolf, James Brown and Big Joe Turner, all blending into a sound that ignores the lines between Rock & Roll, Country, Blues and Rockabilly. "4-11-44" (Rainman Records) is the Blasters' fifth and latest studio album, featuring fourteen tracks that extend the band’s legacy of classic recordings. Fronted by Phil Alvin's powerful vocals, the band follows through with spontaneity, power and grit that make their live performances into experiences not to be missed.
KID CREOLE AND THE COCONUTS - born out of the red hot embers of DR BUZZARD’S ORIGINAL Savannah Band. In the 1970’s the Savannah band had successfully merged the big band sound of the 1940’s (Duke Ellington, Cab Calloway, Artie Shaw, Count Basie, Louis Prima etc) with the dance floor beat of the disco era. The Kid fused the big band sound with every strain under the sun - calypso, soca, salsa, rhythm and blues, soul, jazz, funk, hip-hop, etc......with a strong accent on Caribbeanism. Kid Creole and the Coconuts thus became pioneers of what became known as MONGREL music (also known as Mulatto music or Rainbow music). In other words - a delicious but strange potpourri of goodness. Kid Creole and the Coconuts had the good fortune of working with movie directors such as Francis Ford Copolla and Taylor Hackford. They have also done collaborations with the likes of Prince, U2 and Barry Manilow. They have done command performances for Princess Diana and President Clinton and they have worked with true giants in the MUSIC BIZ UNIVERSE: Tommy Mottola (who brought Mariah Carey to fame) and Seymour Stein (who brought Madonna to the attention of the world). What luck! 2007 marked the band’s 26th Anniversary. Survival of the fittest indeed.....not only has the band recorded 15 albums and achieved gold and platinum status in so doing, but they have played countless concerts all over the world and generated a reputation as the one of the greatest shows on earth (the first being Ringling Brothers and Barnum and Bailey’s 3-Ring Circus, of course). Their concerts became the stuff of legend: spectacular events full of sexual innuendoes, witticisms, syncopation, theatricality, drama, humor, and most of all passion....Entertainment in the old school sense of the word. The Kid continues to be suave, smooth, self-centered and secure and always graces the stage with a brightly colored Zoot suit, two-toned shoes and a highly energetic performance. The Coconuts, three dazzling damsels of divine dimension, have little tolerance for the Kid’s egotistical and sexual antics so regularly ridicule him on stage by shaking their hips to taunt him in every way they know how. And when they have had enough they walk right off stage and console themselves by a costume change into an even skimpier, sexier outfit. KC+C defy description and transcend musical and fashion trends. On stage and on disk they are unmatched in their energy, originality and musical hippiness. They are timeless and unique in every sense of the word. Now the Guys and Dolls are working on their 16th studio album aptly entitled INTRODUCING KID CREOLE AND THE COCONUTS. Indeed, because the beat goes on now and for a whole new generation who were not fortunate enough to experience the goodness the first time around. All aboard - Welcome to the Lifeboat Party - good for all ages!
Heavy Metal Time Machine reviews Blue Cheer Rocks Europe Goldmine Magazine reviews Blue Cheer Rocks Europe. Blogcritics reviews Blue Cheer Rocks Europe. The Cutting Edge Reviews Blue Cheer Rocks Europe, issue 67 Goldmine Magazine interview with Dickie Peterson Stonerrock.com Reviews Blue Cheer Rocks Europe Richard Allen "Dickie" Peterson; 1946-2009
Dickie Peterson - Vocals/Bass Andrew ‘Duck’ MacDonald - Lead Guitar Paul Whaley - Drums Heavy metal pioneers BLUE CHEER were originally managed by the Hell’s Angels and deemed as ‘The single most powerful band I’ve ever seen’ by Jim Morrison of The Doors. One of the original ‘power trios,’ BLUE CHEER, blew up with its full-on heavy metal version of ‘Summertime Blues’ from the band’s seminal 1968 album, ‘Vincibus Eruptum.’ Pitchforkmedia.com recently wrote that, ‘The Who ripped these guys off!’ Named after a brand of LSD created by Owsley Stanley, BLUE CHEER, then young regulars on the Haight-Ashbury scene, made a name for themselves as the first band to be universally called: ‘The loudest band in the world.’ They epitomized the San Francisco psychedelic sound. They are hailed as the fathers of metal, the godfathers of grunge as well as garage gods. ‘What Doesn’t Kill You’ is BLUE CHEERS’ first studio album in over a decade, which Rolling Stone magazine’s David Fricke calls ‘a strong studio calling for that live might,’ saying that BLUE CHEER are ‘still ‘louder than God,’ to quote an old compliment.’ The band has recorded nine earth-shaking new tracks including on ode to their favorite pastime with ‘Rollin’ Dem Bones’ to the origins of being a ‘Malajusted Child.’ They also do a heavy dose of the blues-classic ‘Born Under A Bad Sign.’ BLUE CHEER in the past couple years have been actively touring Europe and America with the likes of Witch (featuring J Mascis of Dinosaur Jr.), Dead Meadow and Goblin Cock as well as at last year’s Vice’s 2006 Intonation Festival (alongside Bloc Party, Ghostface Killah and High On Fire) and the CMJ Music Marathon. In April of 2007 they performed at the Roadburn Festival in Holland with The Melvins, Pelican and Neurosis. In November, BLUE CHEER toured the East Coat to kick off the current U.S. Tour. While going through several lineup changes through their career, BLUE CHEER went on to release a catalogue of stellar albums that would go on to impact the world of heavy music (and many largely successful bands) forever, including "Outsideinside," "New! Improved! Blue Cheer," "The Original Human Being," "Oh! Pleasant Hope," and also performed with legends such as the MC5, Jimi Hendrix, Jefferson Airplane, Vanilla Fudge, Ike & Tina Turner and Captain Beefheart. After a temporary split in 1971, the band reunited in '79 and toured the world on and off since, touring with the likes of The Yardbirds, Biohazard, Danzig, Mucky Pup, and other heavy bands of great stature. ‘The Beast Is Back,’ the first studio album since the band reunited, was released worldwide in 1984. Famed producer Jack Endino (Nirvana, Mudhoney and Soundgarden) produced BLUE CHEER ‘s 1990 album, ‘Highlights & Low Lives,’ which was released in Europe and Japan, but not in the US. It was followed by the band’s last studio album ‘Dining With The Sharks’ in 1991, which was also distributed in Europe, but not in the States. The acclaimed current lineup includes 2/3 of the original trio with Dickie Peterson on lead vocals and bass and Paul Whaley on drums. The two are joined by Duck McDonald on guitar who has been a member with the band on and off throughout the past 20 years. BLUE CHEER has earned rave reviews on the road on recent tours for still ‘bringing on the sonic assault.’ ‘The band picked me up and body slammed me with their sound. BLUE CHEER was a revelation,’ reports Live New Orleans. Rolling Stone magazine states in a review of the band’s 2006 CMJ performance at CBGB’s: ‘ The terror is back’ and ‘with every needle on the soundboard pinned to the red.’ ‘Most critics point to Sabbath and Zeppelin as influences for current metal bands such as Wolfmother and Mastodon, but Blue Cheer’s unrelenting rawness, interesting use of distortion and love of the blues has as much to do with those sounds as anyone else,’ praises Columbus Alive. Not since the band’s original recordings has BLUE CHEER captured so much of its groundbreaking melodic punch and uncompromising, psych-metal euphoria with ‘What Doesn’t Kill You.’ ‘The band right now blows my mind,’ laughs BLUE CHEER’s Dickie Peterson. ‘I am very happy with the new album. It is the same rock and roll we have always done. I can’t wait to get back on the road. With BLUE CHEER you have to go see it! It is a physical experience. I want people to leave saying I’ve never seen anything like that before. You can feel it. It punches you!’