65 years ago today, two of the four Gibb brothers – and, in turn, two of the three Bee Gees – were born on the Isle of Man. The fact that both of them are now gone is still rather hard to believe, but the music they left behind…well, actually, that’s pretty unbelievable, too, but in this case, we mean it in a much more positive way.
Robin Hugh Gibb and Maurice Ernest Gibb were born in 1949, with Robin arriving first by 35 minutes, which – and we’re only speculating here – probably came up at least a few times during the course of the fraternal twins’ lives. The Gibbs’ parents spotted their sons’ gift for harmonization early on, but it still doesn’t make it any less eyebrow-raising to learn that Barry, Robin, and Maurice, along with friends Paul Frost and Kenny Horrocks, started their first group, The Rattlesnakes, in 1955. It was a bit longer before they had their first public performance, however, which took place in 1957 and likely never would’ve happened if, while en route to a local theater to mime their way through the Everly Brothers’ “Wake Up Little Susie,” Barry hadn’t accidentally dropped and broken the 45.
We realize it’s only Monday, but we’re hoping this proves to be the saddest news you have to hear this week, because for music fans, this is some highly heartbreaking information: Joe Cocker, one of rock ‘n’ roll’s greatest interpreters has died at the age of 70 after losing his battle with lung cancer.
If Cocker is remembered for one song above all others, it’s his 1968 take on The Beatles’ “With a Little Help from My Friends,” which he transformed from a pleasant little Ringo-sung number into a full-blown soulful epic, earning a #1 UK single in the process. It took until his 1982 duet with Jennifer Warnes, “Up Where We Belong,” before he achieved the same feat in the US, but by that point he’d also earned three top-10 hits in the States as well: “The Letter,” “You Are So Beautiful,” and “It’s a Sin (When You Love Somebody).” Mind you, he’d also had his decidedly spastic stage presence parodied by John Belushi on Saturday Night Live by that point, too, which meant that just about everyone with a modicum of hipness knew who Cocker was and, having seen him sing side by side with Belushi, knew that he had a brilliant sense of humor.
13 years ago today, the hard rockers who were recently named 2014’s Biggest Rock Band in the World Right Now by Kerrang! took their first real step toward world domination when they earned their very first #1 on Billboard’s Alternative Rock chart.
Linkin Park found commercial success with their very first album, 2000’s Hybrid Theory, but the success was a gradual one, with the band slowly but surely winning over listeners over the course of the album’s first three singles, “One Step Closer” (released September 28, 2000), “Crawling” (March 1) and “Papercut” (September 2001). Only a few weeks after the release of “Papercut,” though, the decision was made to release “In the End” as a single, but it proved to be a wise move: in addition to topping the Alternative Rock charts, the song shot all the way to #2 on the Billboard Hot 100, by far the strongest showing of any of Hybrid Theory’s singles. (“Papercut” hadn’t hit the Hot 10 at all, and neither “One Step Closer” nor “Crawling” had made it out of the 70s.)
1. "Come See About Me"
My favorite Supremes cut!
A Holland-Dozier-Holland composition, it's all about the groove.
I distinctly remember dancing to this at the following year's bar mitzvah parties. That's right, some tracks are so rhythmic they incite us to get up from our chairs and ask Nancy or Betty or Jennifer to dance. And it's not about them so much as us. We hold our heads high in the air as we sing along. At least I did!
2. "I Feel Fine"
The flip side was "She's A Woman," number 7 on this list, and the funny thing is I never dug it back then but it resonates with me now even more than "I Feel Fine"!
It was all about George's guitar, the distortion, the riff, we were banging our heads long before metal came into vogue.
74 years ago today, one of the great protest singers of the ‘60s was born, although if you’d asked Phil Ochs how he preferred to be described, he probably would’ve told you that he was a topical singer…and that’s fair enough, because lord knows his lyrics were topical.
Born in El Paso, Texas in 1940, Philip David Ochs moved around rather a lot as a child, so he was arguably no more of a Texan than he was a New Yorker or an Ohioan, but it was in the latter state where he was able to take his gift for playing the clarinet and turn it into a spot in the orchestra at the Capital University Conservatory of Music. His skill at playing classical music was soon turned toward performing more modern material, however, as he became fascinated with the sounds of country music and early rock ‘n’ roll.
27 years ago today, Neil Tennant and Chris Lowe – collectively known as Pet Shop Boys – took a song that had previously been identified as belonging to Elvis Presley or Willie Nelson and somehow managed to make it their own…like, to the point where, in October 2014, a BBC poll found it named as the best cover version of all time.
Written by Johnny Christopher, Mark James and Wayne Carson, “Always on My Mind” started life when Carson spent about 10 minutes on the song, set it aside for about a year, and then finally ended up asking Christopher and James to help him finish it when producer Chips Moman asked him about recording “that mind” song. Upon completion – which really only involved adding the bridge – the song was recorded by Gwen McRae and Brenda Lee in 1972, but it was Elvis’s version, recorded the same year, that put the track on the map. It was also a top-20 country hit in 1979 for John Wesley Ryles, but for the definitive country version, most folks tend to look to Willie’s take on the track in 1982.
Sad news for Big Star fans: John Fry, the man who founded Ardent Records, the label that first brought the world Big Star’s #1 Record and Radio City albums, and Ardent Studios, where those albums were recorded, has died at the age of 69. Mind you, the man was about far more than just Big Star: he was such a major player on the Memphis music scene, in fact, that he was inducted into the city’s Music Hall of Fame only last month.
Celebrating his 61st birthday today is the left-handed guitarist whose solos were one of the driving forces behind The Cars making it beyond the Boston new wave scene and turning into a platinum-selling rock band.
Although Brooklyn-born (and originally named Elliot Steinberg), Easton got his Boston cred by attending the Berklee College of Music – a school also attended by his soon-to-be bandmate, Greg Hawkes – and first crossed musical paths with Ric Ocasek and Benamin Orr when they played together in a group called Cap’n Swing. After some creative struggles within the lineup of the band, a few folks left and a few new folks came in, but once Hawkes and David Robinson were onboard, Robinson suggested that they call themselves The Cars, and the rest is history.