Welcome to Rock of Agers

Welcome to Rock of Agers

Monday, August 29, 2016

On This Date (1966) - It's Bye Bye to the Beatles Live





On this date in 1966, the Beatles played their last live American concert together at Candlestick Park in San Francisco.

Of course, at the time, no one knew it would be the Beatles' last American show. However, their discouragement with the hoopla surrounding Beatlemania and the increasing complexity of the music they would be recording, factored into the decision to stop live touring.

Here is the setlist of the Candlestick Show:

  1. (Chuck Berry cover)
    Play Video
  2. Play Video
  3. Play Video
  4. Play Video
  5. Play Video
  6. Play Video
  7. Play Video
  8. Play Video
  9. Play Video
  10. Play Video
  11. (Little Richard cover) (followed by a "In My Life"… more )
Did any of you get to see the Beatles live? 
Share your experiences here ...

Sunday, August 28, 2016

Under the Covers - Talking in Your Sleep

For some reason, I have always enjoyed listening to how other artists create cover versions of original songs. Maybe it's because so many of the British Invasion songs that I began listening to in 1964 were covers. Anyway, in this ongoing series of Under the Covers posts, we will offer 2 songs from YouTube, one by the original artist and the other a cover. Hope you enjoy.
Talking in Your Sleep - The Romantics 


Talking in Your Sleep - The Civil Wars

Friday, August 26, 2016

At 63, Cyndi Lauper Still Having Fun Singing and Promoting Causes

This article 1st appeared in Sixty and Me


A little more than three decades ago, singer Cyndi Lauper told us that girls just want to have fun. Today, at age 63, Lauper is teaching us that mature women can still have a good time.
Lauper also says that older women can continue speaking out on important social issues such as gender, sexuality, and aging, as well as establish a strikingly personal sense of beauty and fashion.
Over the years, there have been many interviews about her song, “Girls Just Want to Have Fun.” It was the 1983 mega-hit that propelled Cyndi Lauper to stardom. She has been asked many times about the single that became a sing-along, dance-along feminist anthem.
Cyndi says, “It was very blatantly feminist. It meant that girls want to have the same experience that any man could have.”

Girls Just Want Their MTV

But as successful as the song was on its own, it garnered even more popularity from the supporting video showed on MTV. In the book I Want My MTV, Lauper explained her intention for the video, which is still one of the more popular in MTV history.
She explained, “I wanted ‘Girls Just Want to Have Fun’ to be an anthem for women around the world – and I mean all women. I wanted a sustaining message that we are powerful human beings. I made sure that when a woman saw the video, she would see herself represented, whether she was thin or heavy, glamorous or not, and whatever race she was”.

A Distinguished Career After “Girls”

Using “Girls Just Want to Have Fun” as a springboard, Lauper went on to enjoy a stellar career in both music and activism. She sold 50 million records and possesses two Grammys, an Emmy, and a Tony. She wrote the music for the award-winning Broadway smash Kinky Boots.
As a social reformer, Lauper has worked tirelessly for those considered as outsiders in society. She has organized a campaign against the bullying of gay people at schools and workplaces. She has pushed for the passage of the Hate Crimes Prevention Act and built a homeless shelter for LGBT youth in her native New York City.

The Fun Does Not Have to Stop

Lauper is currently on tour supporting her latest release Detour, which is a compilation of classic country songs she listened to as a youngster in Queens. Interviewed at various tour stops, Lauper continues to be asked about her music and her activism. As you might expect, the fact that she turned 63 on this tour, questions about aging have been added.
In an interview with Vogue (and there is something just so delightful about the ever punky, quirky, thrift-shop wardrobe-wearing Lauper appearing in that fashion magazine), the singer shared her views on fashion, beauty, and aging.
She explains, “When you’ve lost your spirit that’s not good,” Lauper told Vogue. “A woman who is older doesn’t have to look like a grandmamma”.
Lauper says the secret to pulling off an elegant, but not overly conservative look is scaling back makeup. “Too much makeup will make you look older,” she contends. What if the desired look just doesn’t seem to be working? Lauper says to simply do what she does – add a hat. “A hat is always glamorous,” she says.
But whether she’s wearing her performing hat, her songwriting hat, her activism hat, or her fashion hat, all of Cyndi Lauper’s messages appear to wear well. Her parting words at the last concert of hers that I attended, were “Take care of each other in this world,” she said. “We’re all we’ve got to save it – ya know?”
How has your idea of fun changed over the years? Are there still things you do now for fun that you did in your 20s and 30s? What new things would you suggest can create fun in our more mature years? Please join the conversation.

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Name That Band - The Association


The band "associated" with such mid-60s hits as "Cherish," "Windy," and "Along Comes Mary," almost had another A-name.

According to band lore, someone suggested that the group call itself The Aristocrats.

When the then-wife of singer/songwriter Terry Kirkman went to look up that name for them in the dictionary, she came across another name she thought would be better. The band agreed and The Association it became.

Despite the band's clean image, some still contend that their hit "Along Comes Mary" is one of the first songs about marijuana ("Puff the Magic Dragon" being another) to get widespread play on AM radio.

Claiming Mary was code for marijuana, the drug-theme pushers base their contention on lines such as this:

Every time I think that I'm the only one who's lonely
Someone calls on me
And every now and then I spend my time in rhyme and verse
And curse those faults in me
And then along comes Mary
And does she want to give me kicks and be my steady chick
And give me pick of memories
Or maybe rather gather tales of all the fails and tribulations
No one ever sees
When we met I was sure out to lunch
Now my empty cup tastes sweet as the punch
So what do you think? 
Love song or pot song?

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

1966: A Great Year in Music - Time Won't Let Me

If you're a long-time music lover, you probably have a favorite music year, a period when the songs stand out for multiple reasons. For me, that year is 1966
In 1966, I was 14 years old and a freshman in the South Jersey high school I attended. 
Although I didn't know it at the time, it would prove to be one of the greatest years for garage rock, a type of music named because bands just starting out would learn and practice these 3- and 4-chord songs, which were relatively easy to rehearse and then perform live at local dances. And most of these bands would rehearse either in the garage or the basement of whatever member had the most tolerant parents.
I should probably add one more thing here. 1966 was the year I joined one of these garage bands as a keyboard player. It's a role I would find myself in off and on for the next 40 years. And even though I'm no longer performing live, I still keep a couple of keyboards set up for my enjoyment in my writing office.
So periodically here in Rock of Agers I want to highlight some of my favorite songs from 1966. I'll tell a little about the tunes and sometimes a little about myself. But more importantly, thanks to YouTube, you can listen to the artists and see if you can hear some of what I and the rest of my generation first heard then. 
Time Won't Let Me - The Outsiders


"Time Won't Let Me" joins several of the hits of 1966 to make up some of the greatest garage rock music if all-time.

Interestingly, the Outsiders, from Cleveland, Ohio were different from many of the other bands of the mid-60s in that some of the members had been playing together since 1958.

The Outsiders released 2 other songs that made the charts, but neither was as successful as their initial effort which reached #5 on the Billboard Hot 100 in April. During its rise and fall, "Time Won't Let Me" was on the charts for 15 weeks.

The record featured lead singer Sonny Geraci, who later would handle lead vocals for the band Climax. The bass player Jim Fox would be an original member of Joe Walsh's 1st band, The James Gang.

Under the Covers - Jumping Jack Flash

For some reason, I have always enjoyed listening to how other artists create cover versions of original songs. Maybe it's because so many of the British Invasion songs that I began listening to in 1964 were covers. Anyway, in this ongoing series of Under the Covers posts, we will offer 2 songs from YouTube, one by the original artist and the other a cover. Hope you enjoy.
Jumping Jack Flash - The Rolling Stones


Jumping Jack Flash - Johnny Winter And


Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Name That Band - Alice Cooper


In 1968, the band that would become Alice Cooper was called The Nazz. But rocker Todd Rundgren was already using that name.

So after the choice of Husky Baby Sandwich was rejected, the name that the band's singer Vincent Furnier offered - Alice Cooper - was accepted.

Furnier, who adopted the persona of Alice Cooper - said in his book The Golf Monster that he thought the name "conjured up the image of little girl with a doll in one hand and a butcher knife in the other."

Although Cooper/Furnier has undergone many macabre changes over the years, he says the original Alice was modeled on Bette Davis' appearance in Whatever Happened to Baby Jane and the
Great Tyrant character in Jane Fonda's sexy sci-fi film Barbarella.

Monday, August 15, 2016

Under the Covers - The Locomotion

For some reason, I have always enjoyed listening to how other artists create cover versions of original songs. Maybe it's because so many of the British Invasion songs that I began listening to in 1964 were covers. Anyway, in this ongoing series of Under the Covers posts, we will offer 2 songs from YouTube, one by the original artist and the other a cover. Hope you enjoy.
The Locomotion - Little Eva


The Locomotion - Grand Funk

Sunday, August 14, 2016

Making the List: Alice Cooper in Atlanta 8.10.16

Lists. In rock, there are set lists, and song lists, and performers lists, and equipment lists. I've always liked lists. In fact, in most of the bands I performed in, I was the one who compiled the song list and designed the set lists. So here in Rock of Agers, I'm going to make and share all types of rock-related lists. If you disagree with some of the list choices, let us know in the comments section. Or submit a new list of your own. We can all learn from lists. And they're fun to argue about.


The last time I saw Alice Cooper in concert was 1971 and Richard Nixon was President. But I caught Cooper and his band last week as they passed through Atlanta on their Elected 2016 tour.

First, the idea of Alice Cooper playing Symphony Hall was intriguing. Then what's not to love about a concert featuring bloodied, brawling zombie replicas of Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump, slithering neck snake, a giant 14-foot Frankenstein, a toy wind-up doll/ballerina, a sexy nurse with a giant hypodermic needle, a guillotine, and giant tombstone tributes to Keith Moon, Jimi Hendrix, David Bowie, and Lemmy  Kilmister.

Here is the set list for the show
  1. Vincent Price intro
    Play Video
  2. (abbreviated)
    Play Video
  3. Play Video
  4. Play Video
  5. Play Video
  6. Play Video
  7. Play Video
  8. Play Video
  9. Play Video
  10. (Nita Strauss)
    Play Video
  11. Play Video
  12. (with drum solo)
    Play Video
  13. Play Video
  14. Play Video
  15. Play Video
  16. Play Video
  17. Play Video
  18. (partial)
    Play Video
  19. (excerpt)
    Play Video
  20. (The Who cover)
    Play Video
  21. Play Video
  22. (David Bowie cover)
    Play Video
  23. (Motörhead cover)
    Play Video
  24. Play Video
  25. Play Video
  26. Encore:

Friday, August 12, 2016

1966: A Great Year in Music - Secret Agent Man

If you're a long-time music lover, you probably have a favorite music year, a period when the songs stand out for multiple reasons. For me, that year is 1966
In 1966, I was 14 years old and a freshman in the South Jersey high school I attended. 
Although I didn't know it at the time, it would prove to be one of the greatest years for garage rock, a type of music named because bands just starting out would learn and practice these 3- and 4-chord songs, which were relatively easy to rehearse and then perform live at local dances. And most of these bands would rehearse either in the garage or the basement of whatever member had the most tolerant parents.
I should probably add one more thing here. 1966 was the year I joined one of these garage bands as a keyboard player. It's a role I would find myself in off and on for the next 40 years. And even though I'm no longer performing live, I still keep a couple of keyboards set up for my enjoyment in my writing office.
So periodically here in Rock of Agers I want to highlight some of my favorite songs from 1966. I'll tell a little about the tunes and sometimes a little about myself. But more importantly, thanks to YouTube, you can listen to the artists and see if you can hear some of what I and the rest of my generation first heard then. 
Secret Agent Man - Johnny Rivers


If I had to pick my 10 favorite singles of all-time this would definitely make the cut. In fact, on any particular day, it might even be #1 on my personal list.

I would have to say that the guitar beginning is one of the coolest opening riffs in rock music.

In 1966, secret agent/James Bond fever was at its peak and this song began life as the theme song for a TV show called "Secret Agent".

Actually 2 versions of the song were released simultaneously - this one by Johnny Rivers and a shorter instrumental version by The Ventures. Both made the music charts. but the Rivers version proved more lasting.

The song was written by P. F. Sloan and Steve Barri, who at the time were just starting their own band that would go onto great chart success. You've probably heard of it - The Grass Roots.

In addition to regular rotation on oldies stations, "Secret Agent Man" lives on as part of the soundtrack for several movies including Austin Powers: International Man of Mystery and Ace Ventura: When Nature Calls.

Wednesday, August 10, 2016

Name That Band - Aerosmith



When he was in high school, Aerosmith drummer Joey Kramer used to write the word "aerosmith" on his notebooks because he thought it sounded cool.

When it came time to name the new Boston band, Kramer  suggested the name from his old notebooks.

At first, some members of the group thought he was talking about the old Sinclair Lewis novel Arrowmith, but Kramer said no - it's spelled "a-e-r-o-smith."

And the rest is rock and roll history. To this day, the Steven Tyler/Joe Perry Yardbirds-influenced band from Boston walks that way.

Monday, August 8, 2016

Under the Covers - The House of the Rising Sun


For some reason, I have always enjoyed listening to how other artists create cover versions of original songs. Maybe it's because so many of the British Invasion songs that I began listening to in 1964 were covers. Anyway, in this ongoing series of Under the Covers posts, we will offer 2 songs from YouTube, one by the original artist and the other a cover. Hope you enjoy.
The House of the Rising Sun - The Animals


The House of the Rising Sun - Heavy Young Heathens

Sunday, August 7, 2016

Making the List: The 10 Top Bands/Artists I Wish I Had Seen Live

Lists. In rock, there are set lists, and song lists, and performers lists, and equipment lists. I've always liked lists. In fact, in most of the bands I performed in, I was the one who compiled the song list and designed the set lists. So here in Rock of Agers, I'm going to make and share all types of rock-related lists. If you disagree with some of the list choices, let us know in the comments section. Or submit a new list of your own. We can all learn from lists. And they're fun to argue about.
As someone who started attending live concerts in 1965, I have been fortunate to see most of the great classic rock and roll artists. Here are 10 bands/artists I didn't see and now never will.

10. The Byrds
9.  Velvet Underground
8.  Dave Clark Five
7.  Traveling Wilburys
6.  The Jerry Garcia Band
5.  Stevie Ray Vaughn
4.  John Lennon
3.  The Doors
2.  Elvis Presley
1.  The Beatles

Saturday, August 6, 2016

1966: A Great Year in Music - California Dreaming

If you're a long-time music lover, you probably have a favorite music year, a period when the songs stand out for multiple reasons. For me, that year is 1966
In 1966, I was 14 years old and a freshman in the South Jersey high school I attended. 
Although I didn't know it at the time, it would prove to be one of the greatest years for garage rock, a type of music named because bands just starting out would learn and practice these 3- and 4-chord songs, which were relatively easy to rehearse and then perform live at local dances. And most of these bands would rehearse either in the garage or the basement of whatever member had the most tolerant parents.
I should probably add one more thing here. 1966 was the year I joined one of these garage bands as a keyboard player. It's a role I would find myself in off and on for the next 40 years. And even though I'm no longer performing live, I still keep a couple of keyboards set up for my enjoyment in my writing office.
So periodically here in Rock of Agers I want to highlight some of my favorite songs from 1966. I'll tell a little about the tunes and sometimes a little about myself. But more importantly, thanks to YouTube, you can listen to the artists and see if you can hear some of what I and the rest of my generation first heard then. 
California Dreaming - The Mamas and the Papas


All the leaves are brown and the sky is gray
I've been for a walk on a winter's day
I'd be safe and warm if I was in L.A.
California dreamin', on such a winter's day.


This classic has to be one of the greatest wistful songs about being stuck somewhere you don't want to be, dreaming of someplace you do.

It was written by Mamas and Papas founder John Phillips, who was married to fellow group member, Michelle. In 1963, the couple were living in New York City during a particularly cold winter. As a California girl, Michelle was struggling with the weather.

Inspired by Michelle's homesickness, Phillips created this song about longing to be in another place.

Even though John despised all thoughts of religion, he and Michelle had visited St. Patrick's Cathedral together, a tour which led to the second verse ("Stopped into a church ..."). Phillips did point out that "the preacher liked the cold."

Although the song was written on a literal geographical level, it can also stand for any time we're in a dark place in our lives and mournfully yearn for a better "safe and warmer" time.

Rolling Stone ranked the song #89 in its list of the 500 Greatest songs of All Time.

Friday, August 5, 2016

If You Like Hard Listening Music, Then the Rock Bottom Remainders Are for You

While most of Roy Blount Jr.'s public appearances involve his talking about his books or delivering a hilarious lecture on the people and the habits of the South, you can sometimes see him performing with the most literate band in all the land - the not-so-legendary The Rock Bottom Remainders.

The band, which took its self-mocking name from the publishing term "remaindered book" (a work of which the unsold remainder of a publisher's stock of copies is sold at a reduced price), consists of some of America's biggest selling authors including Stephen King, Dave Barry, Mitch Albom, Ridley Pearson, and Amy Tan.

At his appearance earlier this week in his home town of Decatur to discuss his new book Save Room for Pie: Food Songs and Chewy Ruminations, Blount briefly talked about the Remainders and his role in the band.

"I really have no idea why I'm there," he said. "Some of the guys can actually play, but If I even pick up an instrument it goes out of tune".
As authors (how many of the these have you read?) the Remainders handle books
much better than they do musical instruments or live vocals
For those of us who have been fortunate (of unfortunate enough, as the case may be) to have actually heard the Remainders live, we know that Blount is a member of the Critics Chorus and performs as the nightly emcee, providing hysterical introductions to the band and its rotating members of the night.

Blount freely acknowledges that he has some problems with background singing. In Mid-Life Confidential: The Rock Bottom Remainders Tour America with Three Chords and an Attitude, a collective book written about the band's 1993 tour (which can be purchased for as little as 99 cents from Amazon), Blount said the following about his vocal part in the chorus in of "Land of a Thousand Dances":

"I still can't get all the "na-na-na-na-na-na-na-na-na's right. I just can't. I have tried and tried. Along about the eleventh na, I na-ing when I shouldn't or not na-ing when I should".

There was also that moment right in the middle of a version of the South Carolina's greatest shag dance garage rock classic "Double Shot of My Baby's Love" when San Francisco-based author and music critic Joel Selvin turned to Blount and allegedly said: "Hey, there are notes in there, you know".

Not surprisingly, Blount offered one vignette at his talk that involved both the Remainders and food.
It concerned Stephen King, what the mega-selling horror writer is afraid of, and the southern side dish staple okra. Here's how Blunt writes about it in his book in a section entitled "Okraphobia":

"Someone - not me, maybe Greg Isles, the only other Southerner in the band - happened to bring up okra, just is passing, you know, as one will. And my friend Steve reacted as another person might to a vengeful psychokinetic wallflower, or a runaway rabid St. Bernard, or an insanely jealous Plymouth Fury. 'Nooo,' he said. "'I don't want okra. No okra. No"

Now while Blount might have self-doubts about his contributions to the band, his fellow Remainders all acknowledge that their emcee bestowed the best label ever on the type of music they are engaged in on stage. Blount says that the Remainders play "Hard Listening Music".

During their early years, the Remainders often traveled with an on-stage, performing musical director. Among those serving that capacity were rock icons Al Kooper, Warren Zevon, and Roger McGuinn.

Roy and I talk writing, rock, and the Remainders.
But for Dave Barry, who plays lead guitar and sings, the greatest rock star moment for the Remainders was the night Bruce Springsteen sat in for a rollicking, rousing rendition of the three-chord E/D/A classic "Gloria".

After the song, Springsteen turned to Barry and said, "Your band's not too bad. It's not too good, either. Don't let it get any better, otherwise you'll just be another lousy band".

And if you are ever fortunate (or unfortunate enough, as the case may be) to catch the band live, you'll definitely find that Barry, Blount, and rest of the Remainders have taken Springsteen's parting message to heart and demonstrate it every night they take the stage.